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Build a 'money community' to figure out finances

Experts say there are benefits to talking about finances with others.

With millions of Americans out of work, and millions more working from home, finances can be difficult right now. However, financial experts say you don't have to figure out things on your own.

"More than half of us say talking about money with those who are close to us is uncomfortable and we avoid asking for professional help," said Mike Kojonen from Principal Preservation Services. "Many of us have been taught talking about our salary and money in general is socially taboo."

Kojonen says there are benefits to talking about finances with others.

"Many of us aren’t having social interactions right now, but this is one way to connect," he said. "I believe it’s always beneficial to talk about our finances and with a record number of Americans without work and struggling financially, it can ease stress and actually improve our financial situation. Remember: what you don’t know can hurt you when it comes to your finances, so go ahead and ask for help! One of the best ways to learn is from other people’s experiences and mistakes. This is why I recommend having conversations with your spouse, friends, family members or even joining a money community."

You can also find those money communities on social media platforms, with groups who discuss ways to save money, reduce debt, or other financial topics.

Kojonen says people should be open to discussing a variety of topics, including budgeting, savings, retirement, and estate planning; but he does caution about being too open with your personal financial situation, as it could make you vulnerable to fraud. Also, never give out your Social Security Number or personal information to someone you don't know.

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Budgeting

"If you or someone you know is experiencing a loss of income, the first step is to reassess or create a new budget. Find out how much money is coming in and prioritize spending," Kojonen said. "This is where finding people in a similar situation could ease your stress. You don’t have to mention how much money is in your bank account, but you can get tips on how to cut back on unnecessary spending or even how to file for unemployment. I have a budget worksheet you can download from my website, principalpreservationservices.com to help you get started."

Savings

"Saving money for a house, trip or college might be the last thing on our minds right now. But if this is an area you're struggling with, it might be helpful to ask for tips on how to increase your savings," Kojonen suggested.

Retirement

"Retirement is very personal, but it’s also something we all have in common," Kojonen said. "Share your dream retirement with others. Let them know what kind of lifestyle you want. They can offer advice, strategies or even provide encouragement on how to achieve those goals."

Estate Planning

"A whopping 64% of Americans do not have a will or an estate plan," Kojonen said. "A will is typically the first - and sometimes only - thing people think about when it comes to estate planning. Other documents you should consider: financial power of attorney, health care power of attorney, living will and a guardian for your children. You should also update beneficiaries on life insurance policies, bank and brokerage accounts and retirement plans."

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