Color of Money

Jun 04, 2020

Welcome to a weekly discussion about your money hosted by Michelle Singletary, nationally syndicated personal finance columnist for The Washington Post.

This week, Michelle took your questions on when you can expect to receive your stimulus payments and why you might still be waiting for a check if you receive social security, disability, or survivor benefits.

Did you know: "Knowledge isn't power. The right knowledge is power." So, stay informed.

Want more advice from Michelle Singletary? Sign up for her newsletter on retirement, delivered every Monday.

Read & share Michelle Singletary’s Color of Money Column.

Follow Michelle Singletary on Twitter (@SingletaryM) and Facebook.

Thanks for joining me today. I have two great guests so please utilize them. 

Susan Weinstock is vice president of financial resilience programming and is responsible for the overall strategic direction of AARP programs to improve the financial security of persons age 50 and older. 

Elizabeth White is author of “55, Underemployed and Faking Normal”

Let's get started.

How to convey 25yrs overall experience and skills on a resume without looking like a dinosaur but need to look appealing and relevant- Loretta in FL

Look at the job description-use the words in the job description in your resume to make sure you get through the applicant tracking system so that an actual human can see your resume.

I lost my job of 31 years that I had been in my whole career. I do not have a college degree. I have been without a job for over 18 months now. I have been doing "everything" they say to do: LinkedIn, networking, updating resume etc etc. No luck. I'm at a loss, and depressed. I don't know what else to do

Have you thought about taking a class at your local community college? It would be give you an opportunity to learn a new skill and use their career counseling services. And the classes are very affordable.

I'm so sorry this has been tough for you. I'm hearing so many stories like yours. 

AARP has a job bank that you should try. Also the SBA and IRS are hiring people for customer service jobs to aid taxpayers. The SBA is looking for people to help with processing the small biz loans that are part of the Cares Act. And the IRS needs people to help answer taxpayer questions. These may not be jobs in your wheelhouse but for now they will help bring in some money.

Links are in the column: Women 55 and older who lose their jobs in the pandemic face greater risk of long-term unemployment

 

see above

Hi there and thank you for joining the chat! The discussion will take place on this page in a Q&A text format. New answers will automatically appear on this page.

I was terminated due to Covid-19 and currently collecting unemployment. Do you think I should actively seek new employment at my age with thousands of other applicants available for work? My husband is still working so we are not suffering as so many others are. I could start collecting Social Security early. What is your opinion?

I would look at your overall retirement plan to make sure taking SS now is a good idea. You get additional money the longer you wait to take SS, so if you can wait it's good to do so.

The key is to explore all your options and run your numbers. 

This column may help: A coronavirus recession may have upended your retirement plans. Here’s one thing you might consider.

 

What’s the most important action to take to get older women back to work?

Need to make sure your skills are up to date. Technology is changing so fast and it's hard to keep up. AARP works with employers through our Employer Pledge Program www.aarp.org/employerpledge to educate them about the value of older workers.

Like other sensible states, MD residents should have the option to submit their unemployment (PUA) application by mail! Especially during this time of “stay at home”, those who elderly, don’t even own a computer and/or are barely scraping by (many low income as it is) can barely afford their medication much less internet access or even a decent computer with virus protection...using a friend’s computer or library is not an option...and we’re being FORCED to use the horrible Beacon online process?! This is definitely a form of discrimination not to mention putting our most sensitive personal & financial info. at risk. If a credit bureau & major banks can get hacked, what an opportunity this is!! What happened to the good ol’ fashioned envelope & stamp? 

Have you thought about contacting your MD state representatives to let them know that the system should change? 

The unemployment systems around the country need updating. But until they are you have to do what you have to do to apply. And this may mean getting a friend or relative to help you. You can call and do it by phone if you feel uncomfortable going to their home. Be outraged but do not let that stand in your way of getting the financial help you need. I've helped a number of people do things by being on the phone with them. 

What s the best route for credit recovery? ..,attempting home purchase this year.

The No. 1 way to increase your credit score is to pay your bills on time. The No. 2 way is to reduce your debts. 

Do not hire a company and pay them to fix what you can fix yourself. 

For more tips read: How I got a perfect 850 credit score

 

I was a project manager, laid off at age 57 during the last recession (2009). After 6+ months of unemployment, I "dumbed down" my resume and got a job as an Administrative Assistant in the same field. It was less money of course, but over the years I've gotten steady salary raises. They really appreciate my knowledge and experience. I'm old enough to retire now, but I enjoy the lower stress level of administrative work and of course I enjoy the paycheck.

If you enjoy the work, that's what counts. Good for you!

So great that you found work that you enjoy. Lots of people in their 50's lose their jobs and are unable to find work again. Good too that you get to continue to save for retirement.

I just want you to know, that getting financial advice every other week from a black professional is an inspiration to me, as a black woman. You as a visible black woman, make a difference for me. I really want to do the work of uplifting my people at every opportunity this week, even though I'm very very down. That is why I am sending this message.

I believe I understand your feelings and the work you want to do for our community. These are difficult times on so many levels. Thank you for reaching out.

Thank you for your comments. My inspiration for financial freedom came from my grandmother, a black woman from NC. And even though she never made more than $13,000 a year she showed me how to manage my money. And look at me now! I'm paying forward what she taught me to all folks -- black, white, women, men, young and old. 

I re-entered the workforce in 2014, after 20 years at home (though I earned a master’s degree and did part-time and freelance work during that time.) I have been looking for a professional position for 6 years (background in journalism and fundraising). I have never received a job offer for work besides telephone customer service. I’m 62 now. I’m not sure how it can get worse, but with the financial downturn, it has to. I am too young and broke to retire. Any suggestions?

Are you doing much networking? That's how most people get their jobs. Another thought, if you can afford it and I would certainly understand if you can't, is to try doing some volunteer work in your field of interest. I have a friend who did this after a long time out of the workforce and she has been employed ever since.

In addition, you may want to reach out to Senior Service America (I believe their new name is Center for Workforce Inclusion).They have specific programs and other support to help older workers find part-time and full-time jobs.

Keep trying seems too simple. But perhaps you have to redefine what "professional" means. Or when things get better think about how you might do consulting work. Or, and this may not be what you want to hear, take the jobs that come until you can get what you want. Sometimes you have to tuck your pride and just work so that you don't fall further behind financially. That's what Elizabeth did and she writes about in her book. 

Thanks to you, Michelle, I did not throw away the generic-looking debit card with our stimulus payments. It was very easy to set it up and transfer all of it directly into our bank account. I did a small test transfer first, to make sure it worked, and then transferred the balance the next day. I feel much better having the money in my own bank account instead of some random debit card that may or may not work at my grocery store.

The distribution of the stimulus debit card has been a hot mess. But I'm glad you didn't throw your card away. 

For more of the chaos of the stimulus cards read: Stimulus prepaid debit card is causing a lot of confusion

 

I think employers sometimes worry about the added health care costs of older workers. And, frankly, mine are high. Should I decline employer health insurance (and get it thru the ACA instead) to improve my chances of getting and keeping a job?

We've been studying this a bit and the health care costs of older versus younger workers are not that different. I would look at what's offered to you compared to what you get from the ACA and then decide.

Typically, the issue of health coverage and what you should do and can do comes up after you've been made an offer. Do what's best for you financially. The ACA is always under attack and who knows what the future holds for the program. 

My industry (events, music) was wiped out at the start of this pandemic and it's looking like it won't even start back up again until Q2 of next year, if we are lucky. I've been thinking about a career change, maybe going back to school, but am hearing horror stories about not being able to get hired due to age as no company wants to invest in training only to have you possibly retire in 10 years. Do you think it's a good idea to invest in doing a complete career flip at 55?

I think recareering is a good choice. You still have time to get into a new field. You'll probably have to work your way up, but given what's happened to the events and music industry it seems like a good opportunity. Or perhaps there is a skill-adjacent industry you could pursue?

I lost my Executive Assistant job due to COVID. I prefer an office environment to working from home, but I'm afraid to return to an office job, even if I could get one at my age (63, but look younger). My skills are good. The jobs I've seen at AARP and other Customer Service jobs don't pay close to what I was earning, and I'm not prepared to retire. Any suggestions?

At this point, you may want to take one of the lower-paying jobs - it's always easier to get a job when you have a job, so I would take it. Also, then you will have income coming in and something to put on your resume and LinkedIn profile. 

When did experience become a bad thing? I feel like we're always being told to hide it. How do we change the narrative and get hiring managers to see it as a good thing?

Couldn't agree more! That's why we are working to educate employers about the value of older workers. If you go to the AARP Job Board you will see that our Employer Pledge signers (they affirm the value of older workers) get a special logo so you know they are interested in hiring older workers. www.aarp.org/jobs

she/her/age 63/west coast I lost my job at age 56. I was without a job for 3 1/2 years. Through a Connections One Stop job office in my county I was put into contact with AARP's senior job program. Through the AARP program, I got a small job with the county where I live - 18 hours a week, minimum wage - but it meant that I HAD a job; it meant I felt better about myself and it gave me the strength to be able to keep going. The terms of AARP employment are that you have to keep searching for a job. I did end up getting a job with the county and sure, I'm under-employed in my current role, but I do have a full time job. I have insurance. I'm able to pay my bills and have been able to for the past 5 years. I work with great people. Without the AARP program, I'm not sure where or how I would have ended up. Thank you AARP!

What a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing!

With 3 degrees and 35 years of experience I’m thinking I should dumb down my resume since I get nothing back when I submit online applications. I rewrite the resume and cover letter to highlight skills for the jobs but to no avail. I’m 57 and considering raiding my 401K to pay off my condo. Doesn’t leave much... Thoughts?

Have you tried tapping your network? Most people get their jobs through networking and it sounds like this would be the most promising option for you.

So one thing both Susan and Elizabeth have advocated. Be sure that in your resume or applications you are submitting that you very specifically put in the key words from the job notice. The first round of job applications often go through a computer with no human eyes looking. The system is looking for those key words -- the exact key words. Don't lie but tailor your resume and answer to put in the job description words. 

Second for now do not raid your 401(k) to pay off your mortgage if it will leave you cash poor. These are troubled times and cash is king. Later, when you are stable and have built up a cushion or you are getting Social Security and your income can handle your expenses you can decide if paying off your mortgage is the right path. But not right now. 

and it was overwhelmingly fast food (sometime shift leaders) and care giving for elderly positions. Not a great place to look for professional positions. I recommend that people with office qualifications look at USAJobs. The government is a lot better than most employers at not engaging in age discrimination. I'll turn 55 this summer. I have been in my position since I was 39. I have zero plans to leave, if for no other reason than for the health insurance which includes the ability to continue to use the federal employee plans as your medicare supplement when you switch to medicare. With the Supreme Court looking at whether the ACA state exchanges are Constitutional, that is even more reason to stay.

The answer really is to exhaust ALL avenues. One of my toughest jobs is to get career folks to accept that for a period they may not be able to get "professional" jobs. That's the reality we are dealing with. I was so proud recently to hear that a relative with a MBA and his own business took a job at a warehouse shipping packages. He stopped taking a salary for his business because its shut down (although getting money through state and federal grants). But he humbled himself to take a position far below his skills. I say this realizing this may not be right for everyone but don't get stuck on a title or position. Desperate times may mean taking shift work, warehouse work, an office assistant position, customer service, etc. for now until you can get something better. 

Is it better for a job-seeker to take any job while they look for something better, or to hold out for something fully matching their qualifications, history, etc. If, say, an accountant works as a retail cashier, they are demonstrating that they are worth money to somebody, that they have a work ethic, that they can get along with co-workers, etc. On the other hand, at some point "an accountant working temporarily as a cashier" becomes "a cashier who used to be an accountant." So, any job vs. no job?

Having something on your resume that you are currently doing is good, so I would say any job is better than no job. Also, having a job gives you an opportunity to expand your network which will help you get that next job.

And maybe someone who comes into your cashier line is someone you knew from an old job and they want to help you. I've seen it myself. I've helped people in such positions. Also, let me throw this out there. I and a few of my friends have become almost like Human Resource Officers. We look out for folks in our networks looking for work. I've cultivated a relationship with a friend/neighbor who hires and knows folks who hire. He has helped me place several people in jobs. I owe him a tremendous amount of gratitude because he is true to his word when he says, "Send me his/her resume." Be that person for people you know. Be proactive when you know someone is looking for work or are underemployed. I have solicited resumes from people when my friend says he's looking for someone. We have to be our sisters and our brothers keepers. 

With respect to your advice to take a lower-paying job: I have been out of work for two months. My savings and my spouse's job are holding up for now, and I have a few job leads that may pay out soon. Is there a good general answer to the question of how long I should wait before taking a lower-paying job for the reasons you describe? Is six months, ten months, twelve months too long to be out of work? Or does it depend on finances most of all?

I think it depends on your finances, but also on your field. If your in a field that is constantly changing then being out of that field for more than 6 months could be problematic. 

I'm not a risk taker. So, I say take what's being offered while you are still looking around. The longer you hold out, the more economically unstable you may become. And then when you are ready to "give in" and take the lower-paying job, it may not be there. Example: My son is a math major at UMBC. He got an offer for a summer internship unpacking computers. He wanted something more in line with his skills and that could lead to a permanent job when he graduates next spring. No internships were coming in. He accepted the position. He was waiting to hear about an internship with NASA. In consultation with his parents, career office at the school, etc. he went with the bird in the hand, a lesser paying job that didn't really require a lot of his skills. He was just about to start. Two months after getting the other job, he received the NASA internship offer. We coached him on what to say to the other employer thanking them for offering him the job. Then he accepted the NASA job. The note from the HR person from the other job was very gracious and understanding. 

Where to find out about the most in demand skills - talents, etc

You might want to contact your local job center. They'll know the employers in your area that are hiring.

Hi. You suggested that we stay current with our skills and technology. For technology, are you suggesting: Excel and data visualization tools, like Tableau? Being able to use document sharing tools like Google Docs or Microsoft TEAMS? Video chat tools like Zoom or Google Hangouts? Or...….is there some other kind of technology we should also know about? Thanks!

The ones you listed are spot on. Now if you want to go farther and learn coding and cloud computing. The tech companies offer courses in their systems like Salesforce Trailhead that is free. 

How does one seek better employment opportunities when so many strikes are against you?

Use your network. Talk to friends, family, acquaintances, and see if they can help you, even if it's just that they introduce you to someone in your field of interest.

Many online application forms ask for school graduation dates and even birthdates in required fields. And some jobs require you to undergo a background check before an offer is made What's the best way to get around letting an employer know your age? If you put today's date in the birthdate field, e.g., would your application get weeded put?

The trick I've heard of, but never tried myself, is to put 9999 in the field. I hear that let's you get through the system. AARP is working to get rid of these fields since they are so easily a tool to discriminate on the basis of age.

I've never searched for a work-at-home job, but it makes sense to me for the next year or so. What red flags should I be attentive to during the search?

If they ask you to pay for anything upfront that is a huge red flag. AARP has some work from home jobs on our job board www.aarp.org/jobs or try Work from Home Vintage Experts www.wahve.com

This is a suggestion. The reader suggested using USAJobs to look for employment. As suggested above, on that site be sure to use as many key words from the job description as possible. Cram in as many as you can or your resume will not even get to the first step. Just call me "experienced."

Absolutely right - you have to make the 'cert' and you won't make it without those key words. They are critical!

Hi, ladies. I've heard that women only apply for jobs for which they meet every requirement, whereas men apply for any job they want. So if a job posting says, "Must be fluent in XYZ programming," and I'm not, do I pass it by, or do I apply, confident that I have all the other skills requested?

I've heard that as well. I would apply - what could it hurt? Play up your other skills - especially the soft skills that you've garnered over years of being in the workforce.

I left a stable, fairly well-paying job in 2014, at the age of 53. I did't like the direction in which the organization was going and could not, in good conscience, stay. I had emergency savings (because, um, Michelle). After a month off, I signed up for a temp agency and landed a part-time administrative gig that lasted 10 months (and they wanted to hire me full time but at a salary I really couldn't live on but I was grateful). It kept some money coming in but I could also spend time taking elderly parents to doctors' appointments. Because the hours were flexible, I also applied for jobs and had a couple of interviews. I landed a job in my field that paid less and I reported to a 33-year-old who shared my ideals and passions. After 18 months, another job in my field opened up with a higher salary. Without burning bridges and at the age of 56, I switched jobs again. Three years later, my experience has been rewarded and I'm making more than I ever have and just yesterday, a high-ranking employee told me how much I am valued by the organization's president. Don't be afraid to accept a pay cut. Don't be afraid to register with a temp agency, doing tasks you may not be accustomed to. Don't be afraid to start over.

What a beautiful story! Good for you. Congrats.

 

This is a story about patience and planning. Love it!

Can you be more specific?

Do you mean in your resume? If so, look for the key words that's in the job description that you are applying for and then make sure those are included in your resume.

Would you please comment on what types of jobs 55+ women are most successful in being hired for?

In the age of Covid-19 it's hard to be sure. Previously women were very strong in jobs in fields like healthcare and nursing, education, retail, local and state government - unfortunately all fields that have been hard hit in this pandemic.

Are you looking for what I call "bridge work" something to fill in an income gap or a regular job?  If  it is the former you might check out sharing platforms  like Fiverr, Guru and Freelancer. You can make money selling your creative and professional services. The offerings are broad from foreign language translation to voice-overs and logo design. Also, because you would be working virtually for clients, age is less of an issue.

best way to get a job that is below your skill set. I really just need some extra income and am not interested in necessarily doing what my skill set offers at the level that I can. make sense?

Sure. How about reaching out to your network to see if anyone knows of that type of position that's available?

You don't say how old you are. If you are over 55, check out the Center for Workforce Inclusion. They help older workers find part-time and and full-time work under something called the Senior Community Service Employment Program or SCSEP.  If younger, I would explore sharing platforms like Fiverr and Guru, but there are many others depending on your interests and skills. I have also noticed on job sites like Idealist many more virtual part-time jobs given the pandemic. I'd explore that too.

Many online application systems require you to put in dates, especially for education. This is a dead give away on your age. I strongly suspect many employers cull older applicants. (It has crossed my mind to "accidentally" mis-type the decade.) Any strategies for dealing with this?

One trick I've heard of, but haven't used is to put in 9999 in those fields. Not sure if it won't still flag you as an older worker, but it will get you through the system without the dates. AARP is working to eliminate these fields since they can be a tool for age discrimination which is of course illegal.

Another trick I've heard is to type your year of birth in white  instead of black. I have not tried this myself, but I actually learned about it from an HR professional.

Has the pandemic and its impact on older workers pulled the rug out of recent discussions of "successful aging" and "productive aging," which tended to overlook the challenges of older people of color and less income?

I don't think so, although the pandemic has certainly changed to conversation for now. We are all living longer and living healthier so there's no reason we shouldn't be engaging in successful aging!

I think we're in for some tough economic times ahead. Pre-pandemic, some 40 percent of near retirees were already facing poverty or near poverty conditions in old age. I'd like to see some new definitions around what it means to age successfully in today's environment.

As a certified career and executive coach, I've helped many middle-aged women in job searches. The ones who seem to do best have been able to add new skills and stay current with challenging assignments. A big divide is with computer skills and the ability to new software and social media. What advice do you have for older workers to help them stay current?

Now is a great time to take a course to keep current, especially if you have been furloughed or laid off. Community colleges offer a lot of these courses and they are affordable, and if you are old enough - they are free. Older workers in particular need to keep up with training in their field. Very important.

I have recently been approached about a new opportunity and I am nervous making a shift at this time as I am only three years out from retirement at 67, but I don't want to pass up what could be a really great job. How should I approach this?

Go for it - sounds great and what do you have to lose? 

Wonderful that you get this opportunity to grow and stretch.

And my answer makes 3. Go for it! You never know, you may decide to delay retirement. That's what happened to my husband. 

Never looked for a "work at home" job. What are the red flags I should be attentive to when searching for one?

Anytime they want you to pay them for a work from home job then that's a big red flag. You might want to try www.wahve.com  Work from Home Vintage Experts.

I bet they would vastly prefer training you and having you retire in 10 years than training a younger person only for them to change to a different company in 2 years. If you can play yourself as loyal and wanting to settle into a place, you can get past that argument, but only if you bring it up yourself. They won't if they have anything like a professional HR department because it is illegal to discriminate based on age after 40.

We've heard that older workers are sometimes not offered training, but also that some older workers don't take advantage of training since they plan to retire in a few years. My advice is to ALWAYS be a lifelong learner and take any training you can. It's a great way to stay relevant. And you can include it on your LinkedIn profile to show that you are still interested in learning.

One thing. I think we all should stay away from the stereotypes of older and younger workers. We all have a place in the workplace. 

I left the workforce due to down-sizing in 2016 and then had to take time off to care for my father-in-law during a health crisis. I'd like to re-enter the workforce AND into a new field (non-profit work). Any career change advice when you're 51 and looking to re-enter after a 4 year haitus?

Network, network, network!!! This is a great time to talk to people in the field (virtually at this point) so that you can see what might be available and how to get into the field.

Hi, I am 55 and underemployed. I have been underemployed for more than five years. It seems that I am stuck and can't get out of this ditch. I have submitted more than 300 applications and have gotten no traction. On one application I got traction on, I was no longer a candidate because of the salary I asked for. It asked for $5,000 more than what I am making now. How do you make yourself an attractive candidate without taking a pay cut or being paid less than you are worth?

This is a painful story that I hear far too often. Research shows that older workers often have to take a pay cut when they get are unemployed and get a new job and they never make the same amount they did before unemployment. 

Unfortunately, the truth is that very often we have to take a paycut (argh!).  I share your frustration of being offered pay less than you are  used to making. Sometimes it makes sense to look at the non-dollar benefits of a job. I took a job once that paid alot less than I am used to making but allowed me to travel around and talk to audiences about my book. That's what I mean by a non-dollar value benefit. I didn't make the money I am used to but it such an opportunity to speak to people all over the country.

Sometimes we also have to get in the door and prove our value...and money will (not always) sometimes come later.

It's so hard to take less money. But sometimes you do to get in the door. Work hard and show them you are worth more when the times comes for an evaluation. 

I'm an over-55 guy. Things can be tough for everybody, but Is it really worse for women than men? Most people aren't credentialed professionals in specialized fields, and it looks to me like various kinds of service and staff jobs are available to women that men wouldn't usually be considered for.

The unemployment statistics show that women have been hit harder by the pandemic than men. Women are more concentrated in industries that have lost a lot of jobs like hospitality, retail, healthcare, etc. We also know that unemployment late in someone's career can be so difficult - they can have a hard time getting back into the workforce and far too often never get the pay they were earning previously.

Do you recommend putting dates on resumes that will highlight # years in workforce - ie. age? Or is it better to list experience without dates?

Probably best to avoid years in workforce if you can and just list experience that is tied to the job that you are applying for. I would leave out your graduation years and any experience that is more than 10-15 years old that isn't relevant to the position.

I have recently retired but am now seeking employment. Should I limit my resume to say only the last 15 years in order to be more marketable? Please let me know your opinion.

Yes - limit your resume to no more than 2 pages and only go back 10-15 years. Make sure you use key words from the job posting in your resume to get through the Applicant Tracking System.

Nothing gives our age a way faster than a really long resume with jobs dating way back to the eighties. So yes, no longer than 2 pages and no more than 15 years. I capture skill sets from years back in a skill set section without listing the actual jobs.

You mentioned taking classes to learn new skills. What types of classes would you recommend, i.e., what types of skills are in demand for today's job market?

Tech jobs are still important. Cloud computing, coding, etc. etc. All of those fields are still hiring and looking for people.

And get caught up on or take advance classes in various software applications. As you are applying for jobs look at what they expect you to do. If you don't qualify right away, take some classes at the community college to get up to speed. 

Hmmm. Typically an employer-sponsored plan includes a substantial premium contribution from the employer. OP should note that if you decline the employer's coverage you are most likely automatically ineligible to receive any potential ACA premium subsidy. And more generally: if you think a prospective employer declines to hire you because of (theoretical) higher medical costs/premiums: assuming you are at least age 40 that's age discrimination.

Good point. Thanks.

How long should a tax refund take these days ? I electronically submitted taxes in mid to late March and I'm due a refund. When I check status on IRS site it simply says "processing"

I wish I could tell you. But there is a crazy backlog at IRS because many of their workers are still at home. More are coming online so in the next few weeks more taxpayers should start seeing refunds and stimulus payments. 

My parents are in their 70s and have diligently been waiting on their stimulus check. Based on their 2018 filing, they would qualify and also would under 2019, which they haven't yet filed. Following your chat and article, I've also told them not to throw out anything resembling a debit card in the mail in the event that they receive that instead of a check. I've visited the IRS website diligently for them and yet when entering their info, we're still stuck on "Payment Status Not Available" and not able to enter in their 2018 AGI or provide their direct deposit info. Is there any recourse aside from continuing to wait?

If they are receiving Social Security they should get a payment automatically. Right now all I can tell people is to just wait because the IRS is still processing and sending out payments. Wish I could tell you more but sounds like you've done all that you can do. 

Thanks so much for your update on the problems with the stimulus payments. My husband and I believe we should receive something (our combined AGI for 2018 was $155K; we haven't filed 2019 yet) but haven't seen anything. I wasn't aware the government was sending out prepaid cards, so it's very possible we got one. But how do you know? When I check our status on the Get My Refund tool, it still says "Payment status not available." Would it say if we were sent a card? And is it a bad sign that it still says the information is not available? I was fine waiting patiently for it, especially once I realized we would likely get ours in the mail (we owed money in 2018 and 2019, so no refund). However, I've started to hear from other people who have gotten their checks in the mail. We were holding off on filing our 2019 taxes because we thought we could use the credit to pay our taxes (send it right back in!) but at this point, I'm doubting we'll get it in time.

Read my latest column about the debit cards. If you think you may have tossed the card go to eipcard.com. Click on the link for FAQ and follow the directions for a discarded card. If you did get one you should be able to get through the system to order a replacement.

Read: Didn’t get your stimulus payment? Here’s how to find it.

 

Regarding my stimulus debit card: I feel uncomfortable setting up all the personal information online with my bank account number etc. to the transfer to my bank account. Can the bank teller directly withdraw and then deposit my debit card amount into my account directly at the bank?

Your bank can directly take the money from the debit card. You have to set up an account and then you have to make the transfer. 

Can't hear you, just see written words. What am I doing wrong?

Hi, unfortunately for now the chat is only text. There is no audio or visual way to participate. You can submit a question and then if selected read my answer or an answer from a guest. 

Hi Michelle - I just wrote this and it disappeared. I'm not sure I hit return? If this shows twice, my apologies, user error. But I want to thank you for all your hard work. I typically overwithhold my taxes in order to get a big return. I had no problem with getting my 2019 return, because I always try to submit early (mid to late Feb). But due to your column and all the trouble I've been seeing people have getting their returns processed, I have reduced my withholding for 2020. Now, will I save the difference? Doubtful, but I don't trust that the IRS will be able to get up and running by next Feb in view of your column. So - again - thank you and keep up the good work! On a separate note - how much emergency cash do you recommend having on hand, in case of electric grid failures or for hurricanes/snow storms/etc?

Ah, thank you!

What a great chat. Thank you so much for joining me today and many thanks to Susan and Elizabeth. 

Take care and I hope you will join me next week. 

In This Chat
Michelle Singletary
Michelle Singletary writes the nationally syndicated personal finance column, "The Color of Money," which appears in The Post on Wednesday and Sunday and is carried in more than 120 newspapers.

Read recent columns
Subscribe to Michelle's newsletter
Color of Money Q&A Archive
Susan Weinstock
Susan Weinstock is vice president of financial resilience programming and is responsible for the overall strategic direction of AARP programs to improve the financial security of persons age 50 and older. She has more than 20 years of advocacy, communications, research, grassroots and legislative experience working to protect consumers.
Elizabeth White
Elizabeth White, author of 55, Underemployed and Faking Normal, is an aging solutions advocate for older adults facing uncertain work and financial insecurity.
Recent Chats
  • Next: