The coronavirus financial impact on US households has been big and has exposed many weaknesses that show people were not ready for another recession.
Have you been impacted by the coronavirus? Chances are, in one way or another—you have.
The last recession was hard for Americans but we’re seeing the coronavirus have an even bigger impact on US households.
Industry experts predicted a recession would happen. Some even predicted it would happen many years ago. Even I talked about it in 2018 wondering when it was going to happen because the economy was well overdue for a recession.
Now, here we are in 2020 and it has happened. I doubt very many people thought it would be this bad. Or that a virus 1,000 times smaller than a grain of sand would have triggered it.
During the biggest week, almost 3.3M Americans filed for unemployment benefits. That’s by far the largest weekly unemployment on record — it’s nearly 5X larger than the previous record of 695K, set in 1982.
“A definite and unmistakable sign the United States has entered a recession,” Chief Economist Scott Anderson of Bank of the West
US employers have added jobs to the economy for a record 113 months straight — and that streak ended in March. This is the first really concrete news we have about the economic pain caused by COVID-19.
Why is this such a big deal?
The outbreak could trigger more than 10 million layoffs, largely in the second quarter, as the 3.5% unemployment rate, a 50-year low, climbs above 10%, estimated Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics.
When you think about the number of individuals and families this is impacting, it’s going to take some time to get back to “normal”. Husbands and wives losing their jobs, recent college grads not being able to find employment and many small businesses shutting their doors for good.
We’ll probably continue to see small businesses shut their doors. With the economy being so good for so many years, the small businesses that have been scraping by for years, making just enough to cover their overhead and sometimes not even that, aren’t going to make it. If they weren’t profitable then, why would they be profitable now?
With 30.2 million small businesses that make up 99.9% of all businesses in the US, they’re all starting to feel the economic impact.
How is it different this time?
Leading up to 2020, many people thought “it’s different this time.” The economy is too strong, businesses are growing too fast and the future outlook is too great to experience another recession.
The truth is things aren’t any different than the past. We have always seen ups and downs in the economy. When things are good, people get greedy. When things are bad, people get fearful and buy up all the toilet paper. This is nothing new and we will continue to see this cycle happen over and over again.
The biggest thing we can do is prepare ourselves to weather any storm that will come our way. But not everyone is so prepared.
US Households Struggles
Are US households prepared for another recession? Were they prepared to meet the challenge of the coronavirus?
The answer is no.
Things like cash flow management, paying ongoing bills, and saving for emergencies are all areas that people have really struggle in.
Before all of this happened, 1 in 3 Americans were living paycheck to paycheck and 70% couldn’t afford an unexpected $400 expense without having to borrow money from another source.
When times are good, Americans tend to save less and borrow more. When times are bad, they tend to save more and borrow less. You can see that the national savings rate has steadily declined since the 1960s and before the 2008 financial crisis, the savings rate was at an all-time low at about 2%. Once things turned south, you saw a major increase in the amount of income saved, which has since declined after the economy has been so good for the past 11 years. We’ll see a pretty big spike in 2020 and going forward for the next few years.
Cash Flow Management
Americans have always struggled with cash flow management which sets the foundation for a financially healthy life. When money is mismanaged, people are more likely to save less, pay higher interest in debt and are less likely to reach their financial goals.
Most people haven’t been given the right tools to manage their money properly. Creating and sticking to a budget, especially when you add others into the mix, can be a challenging task. Luckily, there are current tools and new tools to make budgeting easier. Qube Money is a budgeting/banking tool that makes it easy to give every dollar a job and spend with intention. People who use this spending app save on average $440 per month and are more likely to pay off debt and reach their financial goals.
Meeting Ongoing Bills
71% of Americans were financially vulnerable or financially coping before the crisis hit the US according to the US 2019 Financial Health Pulse report. Many people struggled to meet a lot of their ongoing bills and felt as if they were just scraping by each month.
Now that we’ve seen the impact this pandemic has caused, nearly all Americans are having a difficult meeting their ongoing bills. This is why we’ve seen many government assistance programs available to a wide range of citizens such as the stimulus check and tapping into your 401(k) with no penalty.
Emergency Funds or Lack Thereof
Nearly half of Americans would have a difficult time coming up with $400 for an unexpected emergency expense. That doesn’t mean they don’t have $400 somewhere but that they would have to borrow to meet that expense.
It’s not easy for most people to set aside money for emergencies because guess what? Emergencies are all around us. Forgot to get that dress for your friend’s wedding? Emergency! Don’t have enough cash for your weekend getaway? Emergency!
What we have here is not a savings problem, but a financial behavior problem. For things to change, behavior has to change at a deeper level than simply setting aside funds for an emergency. If you do, it’ll most likely get spent.
Recessions can sometimes be a good thing because it causes people to take a step back and focus on the important things. They may realize they squandered away their income for so long and became completely disorganized and now it’s time to put things in order. Not just with their personal finances, but also their businesses.
Impact on Small Business Owners
96% of small businesses say they have felt the impact of the coronavirus. The other 4% are most likely booming in this economic environment because they’re meeting the needs of consumers and businesses at this time.
Think of all the small shops that have been operating for many years and now is the time to shut the doors. Even in my own city, I’ve seen small businesses and restaurants that have been in operation for years and are now having closing sales and laying off their employees. Things are really hard right now for many small businesses. I can assure you however that it won’t be like this forever.
When will things get better?
“As sure as the spring will follow the winter, prosperity and economic growth will follow a recession.” – Bo Bennett
We’ve seen things like this happen in the past and this time is no different. Our situation may continue to worsen, no one knows when things will start to get better. But we do know without a shadow of a doubt that things will get better. They always do. And when you look at a chart of our economy over 100 years this will look like a small dip that quickly returned back to normal.
What are federal, state, and local governments trying to do?
The $2T economic stimulus bill, that has recently become law is the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 impact. It includes incentives for businesses not to lay off workers and extra funds for those who need to file for unemployment benefits. It also included sending Americans and their children who make less than a certain amount of income a check to help stimulate spending again. Some are critics of this new bill that this won’t cause the main root of the problem which is the spread of the virus but may help keep big and small companies in business.
Where to go for help
One of the best resources for financial counseling and coaching for over 30 years is AFCPE. Get in contact with a financial counselor and they will be able to help you out in many ways. I’ve been a financial counselor for over 3 years and have been blessed to help so many individuals and families. Most, if not all, financial counselors are offering virtual appointments. If you’re in serious need of help or just need someone to talk to, check out AFCPE.
Instead of going into too much detail for help, I found a really comprehensive list of places you can go. This article from Money Crashers is a great place to get started as well as this article from Possible Finance.
Few people expected the coronavirus to have such a large impact on US households and businesses. When things in the economy are good, they’re good. When things in the economy are bad, they’re bad. We’re really starting to feel the impacts the coronavirus has caused.
As hard as it is to believe, things will get better and “as sure as the spring will follow the winter, prosperity and economic growth will follow a recession.
Growing up, we didn’t have much. One of my biggest desires was to one day be financially free.
I read books as a teenager that mentioned how to become a millionaire and live the life of your dreams.
I believed if I became financially free that all of my problems would go away. My relationships would be great and I would never have to be broke again.
The problem was I wasn’t rich. No matter how hard I work I felt like I had nothing to show for it.
I struggled with feelings of incompetence and self-doubt because financial freedom seemed like some big hairy audacious goal that I was never going to reach.
What Does Financial Freedom Even Mean?
Financial freedom didn’t mean anything to me. It was some arbitrary made-up idea that one day I could buy a yacht and cruise the world. I would have fancy cars and a jet and never have to work another day. I wanted to be filthy rich so everyone would know I made it.
But deep down, I was worried if I would ever be able to make it.
I eventually hit a wall and I didn’t believe it was possible to become financially free. It seemed too hard and I didn’t even know what it was that I was working towards.
Yes, I wanted to be free and never have to be worried about money again. But what does that even mean?
To me, it was like having a goal of being the fittest person in the world. If I want to obtain that status, will I get there without knowing exactly what that means?
No, that is the worst goal that anyone could ever set and they will never achieve it. Imagining up some idea without clear milestones is almost worse than not having a goal.
My goal was to be rich, but in all reality, I had no idea what I was working towards. I also wanted to help other people become financially free, but how could I if I didn’t know what that meant?
What I Learned About Financial Independence
But then one day I had an epiphany. I was detailing a car because that’s what I did as an undergrad. And while I was cleaning this car, I was listening to a podcast. It was a fairly new podcast and they were talking about this idea that was foreign to me.
I thought, I’ve been interested in personal finance for years. Why have I never learned this concept before? And that aha moment for me was when I learned what financial independence was.
Financial independence didn’t seem arbitrary to me. It seemed very attainable and actionable. Something that anyone could achieve if they worked at it for a set amount of time.
Financial independence wasn’t fluffy because it was by definition when you have 25x your living expenses. This concept had never been introduced to me. And if this is the first time you’re learning about this let me give you a quick overview.
I Finally Had Clarity
When your assets are 25 times what you spend in a year you have reached financial independence. By definition, you will never have to work again.
Why is that? Because you could withdraw around 4% each year to live on without ever depleting the principal balance. When I heard this, the light switch turned on. I thought, now I know what I’m working towards.
The other great thing about financial independence is the more simple you live and the less you spend, the easier it is to attain. All of the sudden, I wasn’t just focused on becoming rich and making a bunch of money, I also started to adopt minimalism, becoming more frugal than I already was, and learning to be grateful for the things that I already have.
But there was still one problem. After learning about financial independence, I realized it wasn’t easy. Hearing stories of extreme people doing some incredible things always made me feel like I wasn’t good enough and I needed to be more and do more.
It Can Be Hard But It’s Worth It
So I found myself also getting pretty extreme. It started to place some stress on our marriage. Before that, we never argued about money. We stuck with our money management system and it has always seemed to work great. But I started to feel I will never be able to get there, I will never be good enough.
And what I’ve realized again, is it’s not about hitting some number and then I will be happy. It’s about working towards a worthy goal and learning to enjoy the journey. So I went through a major transformation and mindset shift. I learned that if your goal is to be rich, you’ll probably never get there. But if your goal is to be financially independent, that’s attainable. But not only that it’s about what type of person you become along the way.
For me, the difference between financial freedom and financial independence is having clear actionable steps to how you are going to reach your goal. Financial freedom is no longer a goal of mine because it doesn’t mean anything. Financial independence makes sense in my mind that if I continue to do what I’m doing, over a 10 to 20 year period, I will get there.
Based on my experience, financial freedom is harder to define because it can mean so many different things to different people. Financial independence is more concrete and universal and is something that anyone can achieve with the proper discipline and the right plan.
In last weeks post, I mentioned that we bought a house. So today, I want to focus on first-time homebuyers programs.
Buying a house comes with an overwhelming amount of decisions that need to be made.
Things like, “is now a good time to buy,?”
“Which lender should we use?”
“Should we look for a for-sale-by-owner house?”
“Do we have money for closing costs?”
“Should we have the seller fix certain things in our offer letter?”
“What are the houses in the area going for?”
“How can we get the best interest rate?”
On and on it goes.
When we first started looking at purchasing a home, I was told, “make sure you take advantage of any first-time homebuyers programs.”
I thought, “that’s great that they offer incentives to become a homeowner.”
My plan was to find the best first-time homebuyers program. After shopping around at three different lenders we had six pre-approval letters each with different terms.
What is a first-time homebuyers program?
When you hear “first-time homebuyers program,” what do you typically think of? Down payment assistance programs, closing costs coverage program, etc.
These programs allow prospective first-time homeowners to purchase a house with little to no money down and/or little to no money in closing costs. Such loans like the USDA loan require no money out of pocket but this was not available to us in our area.
On a typical conventional real estate investment transaction you’re required to put down 20%. For a $200,000 house that’s $40,000. Most people starting out don’t have that kind of cash sitting around so it’s not uncommon to have loans that only require 3% — 5% down for a primary residence.
Even at 3% down, we’re talking $6,000 and with closing costs, we’re easily talking about a minimum of 10K being due at the closing.
What about those people with good jobs and good credit they just don’t have $10,000+ laying around? With a first-time homebuyers program, this person could own the house with zero money out of pocket.
Now that sounds like an awesome plan!
Are they the best option?
Some of the pros of using a first-time homebuyers program:
You want to become a homeowner but don’t have the money for a down payment or closing costs. This works for many first-time homebuyers.
You have the money but don’t want to dump it into your house. You’d rather use it for something like pursuing a higher rate of return in the stock market or starting a business, etc.
Lastly, you don’t qualify based on the normal terms and a first-time homebuyers program could get you into a house.
These are all perfectly good reasons to use such programs.
But is it the most optimal thing to do?
I compared the prequalification letters trying to decide which one was going to be the best. The biggest thing I focused on was the interest rate.
These were our three options:
3% down with up to 6% in closing cost assistance
3.5% down FHA loan
5% down conventional loan
With 2 & 3 we didn’t have help with closing costs and were required to put down more.
It would have made sense to go with the first option of only putting 3% down and paying no closing costs!
The second loan is an FHA loan with 3.5% down that was touting no PMI. Most lenders require Private Mortgage Insurance if you have less than 20% equity in the house. With this loan we would have to put $5,320 down and pay all of the closing costs (make sure you negotiate closing costs with the seller. It was a mistake we made).
The third option was a conventional loan with 5% which required us to pay PMI and pay for the closing costs. This is the one we decided to go with.
These might not seem like big differences but here’s how much in interest we would have paid over the life of the loan for each loan.
The difference between #1 and #3 is $65,912!
The question I have to ask myself is would I rather work an entire year or put down an extra $3,040 now in order to save myself $66,000 in interest? I think yes.
When you stack this on top of all of the other things I’ve mentioned on my blog, like cutting expenses and decreasing fees, you’re cutting years off your working career and you’ll be able to reach financial independence much faster.
I get that not everyone could put 5% down or more (especially in really expensive cities). And in no way am I shaming you if you did use a first-time homebuyers program.
My purpose in writing this is to point out the pros and cons of first-time homebuyers programs so you can make the most informed decision possible on your home purchase.
In our case, we decided the most optimal choice was not to use one.
My son will be 15 months old in four days and he’s becoming a handful. Getting into things, climbing onto things, eating dirt, throwing food, throwing fits, and deciding randomly when he would prefer to be awake than asleep.
It’s a lot of work.
I don’t know how my wife is able to take care of him, me, and the house, while still running a business. She deserves an applause. 👏🏼
We by no means have it all together but she does a great job! I can be a father, provide for my family, and still pursue my passion because of the workload she covers.
Saves us a lot of money as well! Cooking meals, being the daycare, doing the laundry, taking our son to the doctor, grocery shopping, the list goes on and on. She should easily be making 60k per year if not more because that’s how much she saves us each year.
So, how impactful are mothers? I’m sharing a video with you that will explain exactly what I’m talking about.
To all the mothers out there, thank you for all that you do! You are appreciated.
Be sure to watch the video below. It’s a good one!
Moms throughout the world give up their lives to raise their children.
My plan was to share a different blog post but switched it up in light of mothers day yesterday.
I’m also grateful for all that my mother did to raise me. I believe I was perfectly parented by her. She instilled in me the desire to work hard. She helped me discover my passion and gave me a lot of self-awareness. She helped me learn to respect others and to give rather than take. She has been an example to me of love and perseverance.
Yesterday, our little man turned 1. It’s hard to believe our baby is already one years old!
As you can see he didn’t enjoy his cake.
I’ve been wanting to write about the cost of having a baby but didn’t want to publish anything until a full year had passed. I’ve also had a lot of people ask me to do a cost analysis of having a baby.
We’re at the age now that friends and family are popping out babies left and right and we can’t keep track of them anymore.
New parents always want to know how much it costs to have a baby in the first year. Obviously, it depends on each family’s circumstances but it can be terrifying having no idea how much a little one is going to cost that could potentially flip your finances upside down.
Today, I’m sharing what it cost for us to raise a child in the first year of introducing him into this world.
The Cost of a Baby the First Year
According to a2010 USDA report, the average middle-income family will spend roughly $12,000 on child-related expenses in their baby’s first year of life.
We kept track of our expenses for the first year and categorized all those that related to our son.
We don’t have a problem sharing with you what we spent on a child. Honestly, we thought that we had spent way more but were surprised to find out that it didn’t cost as much as we thought.
In fact, the total net out of pocket cost may surprise you as it did us!
We Didn’t Just Buy Everything
It’s easy to think as a new parent that you have to buy everything for your new baby. But, many things are honestly a waste of money.
We’re generally pretty frugal and try not to buy things we don’t need. Our son has everything he needed to live a healthy and happy life in his first year. We didn’t just buy things because other people told us we “needed” them.
Some purchases we thought were a must have, but some of those “must haves” we didn’t use or only used for a little bit and then forgot about them. So we could have saved even more money when it comes down to it.
We’ve Been Told Each Year Gets More Expensive
Most of the food costs have been in the past few months. My wife nearly made it a year nursing and we didn’t start buying formula until about 9 months.
But now my son is eating real people food and he eats like a tank. There are some days that he eats more than I do and he’s one.
That’s no joke!
Our total costs including Amazon, supplies, clothing, formula, medicine, food, doctors, health insurance, and more.
Here’s what we spent in the first year of having a baby:
Car Seat & Stroller
Liberty Healthshare (Monthly Premiums)
Co-insurance for Baby Delivery
Co-insurance for Kenzie’s Doctor
Liberty Healthshare Reimbursement
2018 Child Tax Credit
Total Cost of Baby First Year
Looking at our expenses, we were under what we predicted a baby was going to cost.
Factoring in the child tax credit (which doubled in 2018 from $1,000 per child to $2,000), it made it easier to afford a baby.
We spent more money than we would have if we didn’t have a child, no doubt, but it felt doable for us and it was worth every penny.
We were blessed to have a healthy kid who has had no health problems. My heart goes out to all parents that their baby had health complications. Not only can this be extremely expensive, but it’s also hard on the family.
We also saved money because we have great friends and family who helped us out with most of the upfront costs with a baby shower. We really didn’t need to buy clothes or toys in the first year.
We’re also blessed to have amazing grandparents that helped cover the cost of certain items. If it wasn’t for the grandparents, friends, and family we could’ve easily spent thousands more.
How to Save Costs in Your Baby’s First Year
Don’t let people convince you that you can’t afford to ever have kids.
If you are frugal and are willing to do what it takes to make things work, then you can easily come in under $5,000 for the first year, even with formula.
Having a newborn doesn’t have to become a financial crisis. If you get a realistic grip on the expenses you’re likely to face, do some planning, and learn the art of the baby deal, you should be able to save a bunch.
I was tired of how expensive health insurance was getting so we looked into alternatives. We decided to sign up for a health share ministry in January 2018 to lower the costs of premiums and insurance.
A health share ministry is different than health insurance.
How it works is, a group of people pay a monthly premium, pool their money, and pay each other’s health bills. Everyone covers the costs of healthcare of each member.
When we have to pay for a doctor’s visit or a hospital stay, we pay out-of-pocket (at a discounted rate) and then submit our receipt to Liberty Healthshare and they will reimburse us for the cost.
It saved us a lot of money paying $119 per month for my son. The only problem is at times it can take months to get reimbursed and there are some other drawbacks. I’m not saying you have to switch, especially if you’re employer helps you out, but it’s made sense for my family.
Get Your Finances In Order
We started preparing way in advance. Before we knew we were going to have a kid, my wife knew she wanted to work from home. So she decided to start her own business a year before she got pregnant.
Because she works from home we don’t have transportation costs or daycare costs.
A few other things you may consider before you have a baby is paying down credit card debt, refinancing your home if mortgage rates are low, save extra cash by working a part-time job and saving for expenses or your child’s education.
Look at Your Benefits
Before you have a baby, look at the options your employer has to offer you. Sometimes your employer may offer maternity leave, discount daycare costs, healthcare coverage, etc.
Don’t Just Buy Everything
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this article, you don’t have to buy everything to feel like you’re a good parent. Distinguish between needs and wants and consider getting used items and also selling those items that you don’t need.
There’s no doubt that when a baby is born, your life will change forever, and that includes your finances. But with a little planning and a couple of strategic decisions, you can make it work — and it will all be worth it!
I don’t expect the first year of your baby’s life to be similar to mine. But if you’re expecting soon and wondering how much it will cost for a baby the first year, hopefully, I’ve given you some things to think about.
Tom Brady does deserve some respect though. No one has done what he has done and I love watching professional athletes perform at a high level and what he’s been able to do is incredible.
With a viewership of the Super Bowl at a 10-year low, the game and the commercials weren’t too exciting.
The population in America is 320 million and viewership was just over 100 million people this year (31%). Which means nearly 70% of Americans didn’t watch the game.
Since its inception in 1967, between 30% to 50% of all Americans have watched the big game each year.
Nevertheless, the Super Bowl is still a great day for businesses and the amount of consumption has continued to increase year-over-year.
So how much was consumed on Super Bowl Sunday and what are the prices people are paying to enjoy the game?
American adults said they spent an average $81.30 for a total of $14.8 billion for the Super Bowl.
The biggest spenders are those ages 35-44 at an average $123.26 while the lowest are those 65 and older at $40.97.
According to the National Chicken Council, approximately 1.3 billion chicken wings were devoured as well as 10 million pounds of ribs.
The largest pizza business in the world, Domino’s, reports that it sold nearly 2 million pizzas from their company alone.
Men’s Journal reports that 325.5 million gallons of beer were guzzled down on Sunday.
According to The Packer, American’s spent an estimated $58.4 million on avocados and $227 million on chips.
Those are some pretty crazy numbers if you think about it. I mean, 1.3 billion chicken wings! I can’t even imagine what it would look like to see 650 million chickens walking around in one place.
By the way, I find these numbers interesting and don’t care if you consumed a bunch of chicken wings and ribs. I had my fair share of delicious brisket along with many other great tasting dinner items at the Super Bowl party we went to!
Tickets for the Super Bowl started around $2,900. Ticket prices this year dropped after the announcement that the Patriots would be returning to the Super Bowl.
The price tag for a 30 second commercial in the year that I was born was $800,000 (1.429 million adjusted for inflation).
Business Insider said CBS is charging over $5 million for a 30-second advertisement slot in this year’s Super Bowl, which is on par with NBC’s pricing from last year.
As you can see, the Super Bowl is a huge revenue generator and another day when Americans consume an absurd amount.
There tends to be a spike in the birth rates in the city whose team won the Super Bowl. You should see more babies born in the end of October beginning of November in Boston. However, I’m sure the excitement of winning the Super Bowl for New England fans has dwindled.
It’s safe to say we live in a consumer society. I have nothing against the Super Bowl, I love football. And getting together with friends and family is never a bad idea. What bothers me is how the entire thing is set up to entertain and market to us so we will continue to consume. Not because we need to but because the advertisements tell us we should.
This constant consumption leaves Americans still unsatisfied and it almost becomes an addiction. A car company comes out with a new vehicle and we feel we’ve got to have it. The same goes for everything else we consume.
It seems as if it’s set up to make us want more and more and that we should never be content with what we already have.
Hi, I’m Scott. Welcome to my website! I’m an Accredited Financial Counselor, husband, and father. I hope you’ll join me on the journey of reaching financial independence through simplifying how you manage your money.