Coronavirus: How to navigate through financial trouble amid COVID-19 crisis

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Amid financial upheaval due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, many are looking at ways to avoid crushing debt caused by a drop of income.

With empty streets and people staying at home, the money flow has stopped but bills must be paid.

Financial planner Jennifer Kim says don't use your retirement account as emergency savings.

"I always tell people, if you have a retirement account just pretend that you don't have it," Kim said. "It doesn't exist."

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New rules are in place for borrowing from your 401(k) but even paying yourself back means you miss out on a market recovery. A better plan might be to sell some of your investments from a non-retirement account.

"If you need any money, it's always best to try and take a small amount at a time and taking it out in increments, and of course selling it a different time intervals," Kim said.

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Four of the nation's five largest banks agreed to delay mortgage payments for up to 90 days and looking at different avenues to borrow money might be also be a good idea.

"If you can apply for a home equity line of credit or a line of credit through a brokerage account the interest rates tend to be pretty low," Kim said.

As you research all of your financial options, make sure your information comes from a reliable source and doesn't overwhelm you. Reaching out to your creditors first allows for the chance to work on a payment plan that benefits you. And as hard as it might be, stay mentally strong even in the face of financial worry.

"At least if you are going to liquidate, don't let you emotions get into it and do it at the worst time," Kim advises. "At least wait until there's a little bit of a bounce in the market if you want to just take a little bit of money off the table."

And if these options aren't available to you, remember the federal and state governments are offering additional benefits. Over one and a half million Californians have already applied for unemployment benefits. Don't be shy, ask for help.

"If it's possible to just get any support from the household, as well as other family members or friends, I think at this point it's crucial that we all work together and help each other out," Kim said.

And speaking of family, Kim also says getting through this crisis financially is a family journey. Communicate with your children and your spouse and engage them in the effort to save and to do their part to reduce the impact COVID-19 will have on finances.
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