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While the public health threat of the coronavirus pandemic is difficult to live with, many are equally challenged by the economic fallout of social distancing and shuttered businesses. Millions of Americans are out of work, and prospects for going back to the job soon are out of reach for many in industries deeply affected by the pandemic. Additionally, it’s been difficult for many who are suddenly without a paycheck to access unemployment benefits and/or can’t afford to make monthly payments.
If you’re suddenly out of work and have no cash coming in, it can be almost impossible to keep up with your mortgage, credit cards, and other bills that come due each month. However, you do have some options available that can help you stay solvent. Here’s some guidance on what to do if you can’t afford to make your minimum monthly debt and other payments during the coronavirus pandemic.
If you can’t afford to make monthly payments on your mortgage due to coronavirus, the first thing you should do is contact your lender. Your mortgage company may have special programs or policies to support people affected by the pandemic. Some banks, such as Citi, Chase, and others, are offering various types of assistance to mortgage customers.
Additionally, the recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act also provides mandated relief for struggling homeowners. The law prohibits lenders from foreclosing on any borrowers who cannot make payments for 60 days following March 18. While that foreclosure prohibition window is closing fast, the CARES Act also gives borrowers affected by coronavirus the right to request forbearance – or delays in mortgage payments – for up to 180 days, twice. This policy effectively gives homeowners the capacity to delay making their mortgage payments for nearly one year if they’ve been impacted by the pandemic.
Credit Cards and Coronavirus
If you can’t afford to make monthly payments on your credit card right now, you have a few options. First, you should contact your credit card company; just as with mortgage lenders, many banks and credit card companies are offering relief and support to their credit card customers due to the extraordinary circumstances. Your credit card company may have a program that takes the repayment burden off you while you’re impacted by the pandemic’s economic fallout.
If you can’t obtain sufficient support from your credit card company, you still have options. You could speak with a nonprofit credit counselor and attempt to put together a strategy to address your debts. Most credit counseling services are free and can help you find the best options for getting out of your current situation. Additionally, you could consider enlisting the services of a debt settlement company such as National Debt Relief. A professional team will work directly with creditors on your behalf and find equitable ways to deal with repaying your credit cards. In some cases, debt settlement experts can get the credit card companies to reduce the amount you owe considerably, which could take some of the stress off dealing with the pandemic.
In addition to assisting homeowners, the CARES Act also provided considerable relief for people saddled with student loan debt. The law effectively placed all federal student loan borrowers into forbearance until September 30, 2020, which means that people with student loans don’t have to make payments on them again until the fall. Some states are also offering additional programs to support people dealing with student loans, so check to see if your state has a coronavirus relief program to help you.
Power and Water – Utility Payments
Utilities, such as electricity, water, gas, phone, and the internet, are also key monthly expenses in household budgets that you maybe can’t afford to make monthly payments due to coronavirus. In some cases, social distancing may actually be increasing some of these bills as well, since you now spend most of the day at home. If you’re worried about paying your electric, water, or other utility bills right now, you definitely have options.
Much like with lenders, your first step in dealing with challenges paying your utility bills should be to contact your service provider. Millions of utility customers are in the same position as you, and many companies have programs to support customers affected by the coronavirus. Many major utility service providers have also pledged not to cut off services to customers in arrears during the pandemic, which should help to give you peace of mind while you’re out of work and struggling to make ends meet.
Reach Out and Get Relief
If there’s a common thread in dealing with minimum monthly payments during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s communication. If you’re struggling right now to pay any recurring bill or can’t afford to make monthly payments, make sure you don’t go it alone. Contact your lender, service provider, a state or federal agency, or a debt settlement company to help you deal with those bills. Chances are strong that you’ll be able to find some relief for the financial burden you’re carrying right now and be able to keep pressing forward until the threat from the threat is over.