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A new kind of chaos for April 15.

Just prior to the April 15 tax-filing deadline, I would normally be reminding all the filing procrastinators that they’re out of time. My office would be hectic, as clients poured in to drop off eleventh-hour IRA checks in order to get a tax break before the deadline.

Typically, right up to the April 15 tax day, I would receive calls from readers asking me to explain the difference between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA. In other words, it was always a frantic, chaotic, somewhat stressful time of t year.

My CPA friends were under even more stress. Home for just a few hours of shut-eye and then back to the office. Everybody dropping off missing tax documents. It didn’t matter if the economy was booming or in the tank.

Year in and year out, the days surrounding April 15 were always fast paced for income tax professionals. The filing deadline was an annual ritual of chaos. I can’t believe I’m saying it, but I miss those days. As chaotic as they were, though, they seem almost tame compared to what we’re going through at the moment.

COVID-19 has changed all of our lives, and sadly, ended far too many as well. The virus has brought the economy to a near standstill and has many working out of their homes.

Medical professionals are overwhelmed beyond capacity. I have gained a new appreciation for people who run and operate essential businesses such as grocery stores, gas stations, and trucking firms.

Perhaps I’m stating the obvious, but while this downturn has put me behind doors, it has also opened my eyes. As a financial advisor, my focus has always been to help people achieve their financial goals.

Young couples just starting out, for example, need strategies to save for a down payment on a house while also setting aside money for their retirement and funding their children’s future education.

Those in the midst of their careers need to focus on maximizing efforts to build a retirement nest egg. Retirees must have a plan for a reliable, predictable income that lets them enjoy a comfortable life.

I have always been proud that I was helping people achieve their financial goals, no matter where they were positioned on the economic ladder. Times change quickly, and while all of these financial goals remain important, they’re now basically relegated to the back burner.

It seems like everyone’s focus right now is survival, both physically and economically. If your income has been reduced or you’ve lost your job, your focus has likely been re-directed from long-term goals to short-term survival.

If you’re having difficulty making ends meet, I suggest that you be forthright. Let the people to whom you owe money know that you’re under financial duress. I believe you will ultimately be better off working with your creditors as opposed to ignoring reality. In these current circumstances, I believe creditors will appreciate honesty and integrity.

I’m optimistic that we will get through this. What we’re going through is exactly the reason I’ve always encouraged households to have an emergency cash fund. Although I never imagined a scenario where so many people would so suddenly need their rainy day fund at the same time.

May you all stay safe and healthy.