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Financially Recovering from Job Loss

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  Many Americans have spent the last several months getting back into the workforce after being laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recovering from the financial fallout can bring turmoil, but there are also silver linings. American workers became familiar with stories of job loss and salary cuts as the pandemic ravaged through 2020. According to Charles Schwab’s 2020 Modern Wealth Survey , 25 percent of Americans said either they or a family member have been furloughed or laid off during the pandemic. Another 30 percent of respondents said they or a family member have experienced a salary cut or reduced work hours. Unfortunately, in many cases, these COVID hardships are stacked on top of existing financial woes for U.S. consumers. Even before the pandemic hit, a majority of Americans, or 59 percent, were living paycheck to paycheck, according to Charles Schwab’s 2019 Modern Wealth Survey. On top of that, the 2020 Modern Wealth survey found that Americans are nearly 15% more fi

Paying Down Credit Card Debt

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Just when you thought 2020 was devoid of good news for Americans – here is a small financial reason to smile! U.S. consumers paid down a record amount of credit card debt this past year. However, that does not mean American consumers have less credit card debt. According to a report from the Federal Reserve , Americans began 2020 with $1.09 trillion in credit card debt – an all-time high. That number came about from a $76.7 billion net increase during 2019, according to a WalletHub study. Surprisingly, the global pandemic did not cause a continued dramatic increase in credit card debt. In fact, a downward trend was almost immediate. A slight paydown of consumer credit card data is normal in the first quarter of any year, according to the WalletHub study. However, in the first quarter of 2020 consumers paid down $60 billion in credit card debt – the biggest paydown ever. The WalletHub study found that consumers continued paying off credit cards throughout 2020. In Q2 and Q3 combined, co

The Impact of Stimulus Payments on Your Taxes

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What a year 2020 has been! New Year’s celebrations were barely over when the coronavirus turned things topsy-turvy. But one bright spot for 159 million people was the Economic Impact Payment that appeared in their mailbox or checking account.  If you didn’t receive a payment, you may be wondering, why? And if you did, you may be wondering, what’s the catch? We are here to help put your mind at ease, so let’s tackle your questions, one by one. Do I owe tax on the money I received?  That’s an easy one: No. The stimulus payment was designed to impact the economy, not your taxes, so it won’t reduce your 2020 refund or increase your tax due.  I didn’t get a payment – why?  If your income for 2019 or 2018 was over $75,000 ($150,000 if you filed jointly, $112,500 if you were head of household), then your payment was reduced by $5 for every excess $100 you earned.  And if you didn’t file a tax return for either year, you may not have gotten a payment. But don’t despair, you still may be entitl

Community Commitment

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  Euclid Hunger Center Through the pandemic, the Euclid Hunger Center has continued its commitment to Euclid residents by offering free food to those who need it. EFCU staff has supported EHC’s cause by raising money and volunteering time to help prepare the food for distribution. If you or someone in the Euclid area is in need, you can contact them by phone at (216) 731-3329.   Thanks to everyone who participated in the Thanksgiving Dinner basket at the Euclid and Willoughby Hills branches, EFCU was able to donate $208.00 to the Euclid Hunger Center. We were able to raise an additional $200.00 from the Malley’s candy bar sales bringing us to a total of $408.00 for the EHC. If you are interested in donating or volunteering, visit their website  for more information.   Lincoln / Logan Food Pantry Another one of our community partners is the Lincoln / Logan Food Pantry. Located in Lincoln, Illinois, the LLFP organizes the collection of food donations and distributions to th

Maximizing Tax Withholdings

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While changes can be made at any time to a W-4 form, the end of the year is a good time to review tax withholdings. Life-changing events, like having a baby or buying a house, might mean it’s time for an update.   Withholdings are the amount an employer takes out of a paycheck to pay the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on their behalf. That amount can be adjusted as an individual deems necessary, whether too much or not enough was taken out, and can be modified by completing a new W-4, an Employee’s Withholding Certificate.   To change a W-4, the Adjusted Growth Income (AGI) is needed, which can be found on the prior year’s tax return. Online tools, like the Tax Withholding Estimator at IRS.gov or the W-4 Calculator for TurboTax , can help estimate withholding amounts.   Having too much withheld from a paycheck results in receiving a tax refund, but less money in your pocket throughout the year. Not taking out enough, however, could mean an IRS tax bill or even a penalty fo

Managing Holiday Expenses

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It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year; but for many, the holidays can be an expensive time. From gifts to decorations to wrapping paper to special events, it’s easy to overspend and possibly even go into debt paying for all the extras. In 2019, Forbes reported on a Gallop poll showing Americans spend an average of nearly $1,000 on holiday gifts alone during the holiday season. And 37% of those respondents expect to exceed that amount while shopping for presents. Online shopping has sky-rocketed, particularly in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Fortunly , a survey of around 1,000 respondents found that 60% of U.S. consumers prefer to shop for their gifts online. Purchasing from a home computer, phone or tablet, is both convenient and an easy way to compare the best deals. However, Fortunly also found that 60% of consumers wait to buy their gifts until the week before Christmas – a time when most goods are at their most expensive. Tips for Managing

A Personal Budget in 5 Easy Steps

According to a survey by the Ohio Credit Union League , 20% of Ohioans are unsure how to create a monthly budget. While some effort is necessary, garnering a better understanding of your cash flow is an important step to strengthening your family’s financial situation. We suggest the following steps to establish a basic budget:   Step One: Keep track of your income and expenses for a couple of months . You need an idea of what a “typical” month is like for you. For cash expenditures, keep receipts in an envelope you carry with you every day. Then go back to categorize and total the receipts at the end of the month. Step Two: Lay out your budget. In the “expenses” part of your budget, you will be accounting for two major types of expenses: fixed and variable. Fixed expenses are set amounts you pay every month, such as rent, car payment, and utilities. Variable expenses include discretionary items, such as entertainment and clothing. Write down all the necessities so yo