Financial advisors often tell clients to keep an emergency fund of liquid assets, with enough to cover three to six months of living expenses. It makes you wonder why America’s largest companies don’t maintain a similar practice, with three to six months of emergency savings to help keep workers on payroll during difficult times.
Unfortunately, it is common during economic downturns, including pandemics, for companies to reduce hours, send workers home without pay or lay off employees altogether.1 This is why it’s important for every household to have a contingency plan for when the unexpected happens.
If you don’t have a plan B for loss of income, savings or investment dividends — or if your plan B isn’t working and you need to come up with a plan C — we’re here for you. Give us a call to discuss ways to position assets to help establish greater financial confidence for your household moving forward.
Federal regulators recently announced that homeowners unable to pay their mortgage due to lost income from the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible to reduce or suspend their mortgage payments for up to 12 months.2 Consider your options carefully, particularly if you have enough savings to cover these payments for the foreseeable future. Homeowners will have to work out a repayment plan with their lender, which could result in higher monthly payments or extending the term of the loan.
If you have any supplemental insurance policies, you may want to pull out those contracts and read about their coverages and exclusions. For example, critical illness insurance is not likely to cover COVID-19 because it’s not a specified illness on the policy.
Small businesses are generally advised to create a contingency plan, but this is usually comprised of things like capital and credit sources, supply chain alternatives, and even a public relations crisis management plan.3 While keeping home-bound workers on the payroll is an unusual tactic, small business owners may want to consider the alternative. When the economy recovers and jobs ramp back up, you’ll have to start the recruitment process all over again and may lose out on regaining your highly trained talent.
According to the Work Institute’s 2017 Retention Report, the replacement cost is $15,000 per employee earning $45,000 a year.4 If the current loss of business lasts three months, how does that compare to the cost of keeping already trained and productive workers on the payroll during the pandemic?
There’s a bigger picture, as well. Those who lose their jobs and income cease to be active consumers, which slows down the economy and makes it harder for small businesses to recover.
1 Carmen Reinicke. Business Insider. March 20, 2020. “The coronavirus outbreak is causing a historic spike in US layoffs. Here’s what 4 Wall Street experts are saying – and how much worse they think it can get.” https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/us-layoffs-spiking-coronavirus-expert-reaction-commentary-economy-unemployment-analyst-2020-3-1029016785. Accessed March 20, 2020.
2 Chris Arnold. NPR. March 19, 2020. “U.S. Orders Up To A Yearlong Break On Mortgage Payments.” https://www.npr.org/2020/03/19/818343720/homeowners-hurt-financially-by-the-coronavirus-may-get-a-mortgage-break. Accessed March 20, 2020.
3 Mike Fried. ROI. March 16, 2020. “Five considerations for pandemic event preparedness.” https://www.roi-nj.com/2020/03/16/opinion/five-considerations-for-pandemic-event-preparedness/. Accessed March 20, 2020.
4 Valerie Bolden-Barrett. HR Dive. Aug. 11, 2017. “Study: Turnover costs employers $15,000 per worker.” https://www.hrdive.com/news/study-turnover-costs-employers-15000-per-worker/449142/. Accessed March 20, 2020.
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