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Financial planner: 'Be proactive with your financial life' during pandemic

Posted at 5:36 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 21:42:28-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — From Wall Street to Main Street, everyone's having to take a closer look at their financial situation amid the coronavrius pandemic.

"My take on it is there's a lot of unknowns and anytime there's unknowns that creates volatility in the markets," certified financial planner Ryan Marshall told FOX 17 via FaceTime.

If you find yourself in a crunch or potential crunch you may need to adjust.

He said, "What are your bills? What's your income going to come in? Has it changed? Has it decreased? Is it nothing?"

"Just take inventory of what you have. Once you do that, be proactive with your financial life," advised the New Jersey-based financial expert.

If you find yourself fired or laid off, Marshall says go ahead and file for unemployment benefits. If you're waiting to file your tax return and normally get a refund, he says file it as soon as possible. And of course look at discretionary spending.

"Obviously you're not going to be going to the gym for a while because that's shut down, but maybe that's one of the first places you can start at," he said. "Maybe you can even work with your gym membership that they can suspend it for a little bit."

Another way to cut expenses is cooking instead of ordering takeout. Also, reach out to your creditors and see how you may be able to ease the financial burden.

Whatever you do, Marshall says don't touch your 401k.

"I wouldn't be moving around the 401k because you could be doing more harm than good. If you are close to retirement and you never rebalanced, this might be a little bit of a wake up call to say this is why you should rebalance and you shouldn't always be super aggressive heading into retirement," he explained.

"But people that are young like you and me, I mean, this could be an opportunity that you can continue to accumulate shares and it could be a buying opportunity," Marshall said.

While there could be government programs that help people in the coming weeks, Marshall says don’t wait or rely on those. Plan for what you have now.