Budgets Before and After Social Distancing

It’s been approximately five weeks since the first wave of stay-at-home orders from municipalities and states began in the US.  Although we probably don’t want to hear this, many of us don’t know when restrictions will be lifted and we’ll be able to resume the lives outside of our homes that we were forced to abandon. 

 

The impact that the pandemic continues to have on everyone and everything is extensive. Despite early efforts of the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates, the economy has taken a hit. Americans are losing jobs and small businesses are hurting. According to The Washington Post, 5.2 million people filed unemployment claims in one week, bringing us to a four-week total of 22 million claims filed since a national emergency was declared by the President on March 13, 2020. This isn’t it; our educational, healthcare, and even transportation systems have been impacted. You name it, and it’s been affected. 

 

Most of what is happening is out of our control but there are some responsible decisions we can make to help control how we come out on the other end. Yes, wash your hands and keep your immune systems strong, but beyond that, we can make some financial pivots. The way we do things has changed overnight. Some of the habits we had coming into social distancing are impossible to maintain given the restrictions and this might not be a bad thing. It may have been difficult to identify opportunities for savings before, but chances are that has changed with our current circumstances. Social distancing is helping to reveal what's essential, and what's not.

 

 

Coffee runs - $10/wk = $40/mo

I made coffee every morning and worked just as hard without the $2.50 daily charge.

Acorns reports that the average American spends about $1,100 per year on coffee, which breaks down to roughly $92 a month. So if you’re a heavy coffee drinker and you now find yourself making coffee at home as opposed to ballin’ out at your nearest coffee shop, when we get back to “business as usual” reduce the coffee spending budget and slide this cash over to your rainy day fund. 

 

 

Lunch takeout - $30/wk = $120/mo

I didn't starve or lose my sense of taste from ingredients made from the fridge.

Now that we’ve all learned that second day pasta actually tastes better we’ll be dutifully packing lunch and carrying that with us post-social distancing. Savings potential just increased again.

 

 

Gym memberships - $60/mo

50 pushups, 10 minutes of stretching, 5 mins of meditation every morning costs nothing and it feels amazing.

According to research by Finder.com, roughly 5.1 million Americans waste $1.8 billion on unused gym memberships each year. But for those of us who actually use the memberships, there are those among us who may have realized during this pandemic that our level of fitness doesn’t require the $60 per month investment. Calisthenics, YouTube, or one of the many fitness apps available will get us to where we need to be at this phase in our journey.

 

 

Admittedly, I watched twice as much Netflix during quarantine.  But I also caught a few really good documentaries on free streaming sites like Tubi, Pluto, and Crackle.

According to an article published by Forbes, the average American subscriber watches 3.4 services, paying an average $8.53 per month for each. That’s just under $30 per month. Although it’s less than what you would pay for traditional cable service, do you really need so many streaming services?

 

During this time, cutback where you can, even if it’s temporary (while social distancing), and use that money to start building the rainy day fund that current times have shown us we all desperately need. 

 

Other areas for temporary or permanent savings:

  • Auto insurance
  • Satellite Radio subscriptions
  • Gas
  • Music streaming services

 

These are just a few areas for savings opportunities that have become apparent during this time. The point is, sometimes a change of circumstance can shine a light and force us to examine our behavior. We can all learn from our experience in social distancing helping us emerge better off than when we entered. 


Relief for Small Businesses, The CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program

The Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) was approved on March 27, 2020, mandating help not only for individual tax-paying Americans but also for small businesses. 

 

Under the $2 trillion CARES Act, the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) has designated $349 billion for small business loans to aid businesses impacted by the effects of the coronavirus. Your business may qualify. Here’s what you need to know.

Who qualifies for this loan?

All businesses with 500 or less employees are able to apply for the loan. This includes nonprofits, veterans organizations, Tribal business concerns, sole proprietorships, self-employed individuals, and independent contractors.

What can I use the loan for?

The PPP loan can be used to cover payroll, rent, mortgage interest, and utilities. Rental agreement, mortgages and utility services must have been established prior to February 15, 2020. 

Is this loan forgivable?

The full loan will be forgivable if the money is used for payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent and utilities payments from the eight week period after receiving the loan. Per the U.S. Treasury Department, “due to likely high subscription, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs.” In addition, you must maintain your staff during the eight week term or the forgivable amount of the loan will be reduced if you let go of any full-time employees. The forgivable amount will also be reduced if any employee making less than $100,000 receives a pay cut. 

When can I apply?

As of April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can begin applying for the loan.  Starting April 10, 2020 independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply. 

How do I apply for this loan? 

You can apply for the loan through a Small Business Administration approved lender. You can contact your financial institution directly to inquire if they are participating and to get the process started.

Additional information

  • 1.00% fixed interest rate
  • All payments are deferred for 6 months
  • The loan is due in 2 years
  • There are no penalties or fees for repaying the loan early.

Where can I find more information as it becomes available?

Check back to this blog post for more information as we find it and post for your benefit.

 


How To Get Your CARES Act 'Check'

In a short time our reality has shifted, leaving many of us in very unfamiliar and compromising situations. The coronavirus pandemic has impacted everyone, whether infected or not. 

 

Echoing from around the world are the cries of people who weren’t prepared for the whirlwind of challenges brought on by this pandemic.

 

Over the past couple of weeks there had been talks of an economic stimulus bill to provide relief for Americans (including individuals and businesses). On March 27, 2020 the President signed the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) into law. This means some relief is on the way. Here’s what you need to know.

 

Who will benefit from this?

Americans who pay taxes will receive a stimulus payment. This stimulus payment is available for individuals with an income up to $75,000 and $150,000 for married couples.

 

If you are not required to file taxes, you can still receive the stimulus payment. According to the IRS, people who typically do not file a tax return must file a simple tax return to receive an economic impact payment. The form for non-filers can be found here

 

What relief will I receive as an individual?

Individuals will receive a one-time direct deposit stimulus payment of up to $1,200, and married couples will receive $2,400, plus an additional $500 per child.

 

The unemployment insurance program has also been extended to provide relief. Eligibility has been expanded and will also apply to the self-employed, independent contractors, and gig economy workers. Click here to access the Unemployment Benefits Finder. 

 

When will I receive my payment?

The IRS has begun distribution of the economic impact payments. If you haven't received yours yet, beginning mid-April, you will be able to check the status of your check via the Economic Impact Payments page.

 

How will I receive my payment? 

The economic impact payments will be directly deposited into your bank account, the same banking account reflected on your filed tax return (2019 or 2018). On the IRS Economic Impact Payments page , you will also be able to:

  • Confirm your payment type: direct deposit or check.
  • Enter or update your bank account information for direct deposit if the IRS doesn't have already have it.
  • Update your address if you've moved since you last filed taxes.

 

You can prepare yourself to receive your direct deposit payment by enrolling in a MoCaFi bank account. Download the app and enroll to access your routing and bank account numbers that you’ll need to receive your payment.   If you opt to receive a check in the mail, you can cash your check with a photo through the Ingo Money feature in the MoCaFi app.  We will waive any fees charged by Ingo Money for all government checks.

 

Where can I find updates and more information as it becomes available?

 

 

  • You can find a list of helpful questions and responses about the economic impact payments here.

 

 

Check back to this blog post for more information as we find it and post for your benefit.


Helping you Navigate the COVID-19 Pandemic

Over the past couple of months the world has been faced with what has now been declared a pandemic, COVID-19. We all have lots of questions about the virus and how it is and will continue to impact our lives in the coming days and weeks. With the abundance of information, not all factual, flooding our screens it can be challenging to navigate our current reality. We wanted to help by providing you with links to resources of useful information and MoCaFi tips on how you can stay grounded during this time. In the spirit of Women’s History Month, we specifically want to empower our female readers as you help your families and other loved ones face these unique challenges. 

 

What is the Coronavirus?

According to the World Health Organization, “Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans. Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.”

 

What can I do for myself and my family during this time?

 


Additional information and future updates can be found on these websites

Updates on the evolving situation can be found on the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, and The Federal Emergency Management Agency websites.

 


5 Things You Should Include in Your Budget

Budget, now that’s a word we’ve all used at some point. Some of us have a budget that we actually take the time to create each month and others of us use the words “I’m on a budget” to ward off requests for us to spend our money in ways that we don’t want to or can’t. 

 

Nobody: 

Me: “Sorry, I can’t, I’m on a budget”

 

via GIPHY

 

We all get the general concept and usefulness of budgets but some of us might not realize just how important they are to our financial success. No matter if you make $20K each year or $100K each month, having a budget is essential. You should stay in control of your money and be clear on what money you’re bringing in and exactly how you’re spending it. Having a clear picture on the flow of your money helps you make informed decisions: from how many coffee breaks you should take to what kind of vacation you’ll be able to take this year. 

 

Some people will say, “I know how I spend my money, I don’t need to create a budget.” You’ll be surprised how many miscellaneous purchases slip through the cracks and add up to large expenses that could be saved or spent more intentionally. 

 

If you’ve never prepared a budget before, don’t worry, it’s not a difficult process. By the time you’re done you may even feel more liberated, seeing your finances detailed on paper. Even if you find yourself in the negative, with a budget, you’ll be able to more clearly identify your next course of action.

 

 

via GIPHY

 

You can even take advantage of personal budget templates available on platforms you’re probably already using, such as Google Sheets and Apple’s Numbers. All you’ll have to do is fill in the missing pieces. You’ll have the flexibility to customize the budget to reflect your financial picture. Following are some things you should be sure to include in your budget creating process.

 

 

Expenses

Include all of your expenses. An expense is any money you pay out. There are two types of expenses: variable and fixed. Variable expenses are costs that change in respect to how much of that service or product you use. An example of a variable expense in your budget may be yoga classes. On the other hand, fixed expenses are costs that stay the same from month to month. An example of a fixed expense would be your rent or mortgage.

 

Savings

Include savings in your budget planning. If you want to change your financial situation, pay yourself. Determine your savings goals and commit to saving each month. Make it real by building it into your budget. Don’t say you can’t afford to save. You actually can’t afford not to. Did you know, according to the Federal Reserve, 40% of Americans can’t cover a $400 emergency. To get started, save what you can, no amount is too little. Set an amount and it to your budget. Increase the amount when the opportunity comes.

 

Important Dates

Make note of bill due dates and paydays. Staying abreast of these important dates will help you avoid paying bills late and incurring additional charges and stress.

 

Income

Income is an important part of your budget. Be sure to include all of your income sources and when they are expected throughout the month. You’ll want to ensure you have enough to cover your monthly expenses and in the event you don’t, knowing your total income and expenses will help you identify how much you will need to reduce variable expenses or how much additional income you’ll look to secure.

 

Review

This final item is a step to include in your process. Review your budget each month and make adjustments where you can. If you find that you are consistently underspending in a particular category you may want to lower the budgeted amount and use those funds for savings or to tackle debt. You should decide the best approach for you based on what your short term and long term financial goals are.

 

Budgets are essential to getting business done, whether running a household or a large company. Budgeting is an ongoing process, and it becomes easier with time. As you get in the habit of tracking your spending and earnings, you’ll become more aware of your finances and how day to day activities align with your short term and long term goals. Most things are a lot more bearable when you can manage them instead of letting them manage you. That means having a plan for your money.


Helping Women Bridge the Gap: Why You Should Support Black-Owned Women Businesses

Do it for the culture! Supporting black-owned women businesses is becoming increasingly more necessary. The number of black-owned women businesses continues to grow year over year, with African American women accounting for the largest segment of minority-owned businesses in the United States.  In 2018, 41% of minority-owned businesses were owned by African American women but they only accounted for 15% of the total revenue generated by minority-owned businesses. 

 

Black women have made strides with regard to the number of women who opt for entrepreneurship. This alone is plenty to be proud of! But there’s levels to this. In a society where inequalities persist, there’s always room for progress. Collectively we’ve managed to buy into a culture of entrepreneurship, but now it’s time we harness its full power.

 

 

via GIPHY

 

Disparities Among Women-owned Businesses in the United States

In the 2018 study conducted by American Express, “The State of Women-Owned Businesses” it is noted, “If revenues generated by minority women-owned firms matched those currently generated by all women-owned businesses, they would add four million new jobs and $1.2 trillion in revenues to the U.S. economy.” Non-minority businesses accounted for 78% of the total $1.8T generated by women-owned businesses in the U.S. When this figure is considered in conjunction with how brands respond to the interests and needs of African Americans, it suggests that we have the potential to impact change through our collective buying power. 

 

Economic Wealth Gap in the United States

Huge economic disparities continue to exist with Black Americans being edged out of resources and opportunities that could increase their economic mobility. Here are some blaring insights from “The Economic State of Black America in 2020” by the Joint Economic Committee:

  • The unemployment rate remains 50% higher for Black Americans.
  •  The median wealth of Black families ($17,000)—is less than one-tenth that of White families ($171,000).
  • The typical Black household earns a fraction of White households—just 59 cents for every dollar. The gap between Black and White annual household incomes is about $29,000 per year.
  •  Much less than half (42%) of Black families own their homes, compared to almost three-quarters (73%) of White families.

 

The problem of economic disparities negatively impacting Black Americans is so comprehensive that the solution will have to be just as involved. Through doorways that already exist and the building of new tables, we can make an impact. We can help women bridge the gap by supporting black-owned women businesses! 

 

Benefits of Supporting Black-owned Women Businesses

Supporting black-owned women businesses is good for everyone: Black women, Black families, and communities. Increasing our support of black-owned women businesses will: 

  • Keep money in the community and strengthen local economies. 
  • Help close the economic wealth gap by increasing revenue and creating jobs. 
  • Provide examples of leadership and entrepreneurship for current and future generations. 
  • Advocate for the interests of Black Americans by demonstrating support for brands that speak to the Black experience through $1.3T in buying power held by Black Americans. This subsequently holds other companies accountable as well when they realize that a large segment of their consumer population is yielding power with their dollars. 

 

Supporting black-owned women businesses alone isn’t the answer to healing systemic economic disparities BUT it’s a necessary contributor and will have a profound impact on how Black Americans are treated when they pull their seat up to the table. 

 

via GIPHY

 

Check out some of the black-owned women businesses participating in our #Represent program. 

BLK + GRN

Trade Street Jam Co.