Connie J. Schlosberg
The coronavirus pandemic has hit us all unexpectedly. Governments and companies have had to make tough decisions. Those decisions may have hit you especially hard if you work for a “non-essential” retail business or a small company. If this is the case, avoid panicking. Instead, learn how to manage your financial situation.
Have you had a reduction in your pay?
If you get laid off, apply for unemployment benefits regardless of whether you think you qualify. Let the unemployment agency tell that you aren’t eligible for benefits before assuming. Even if you don't qualify, these are unexpected circumstances. If you are unemployed due to government-mandated shutdowns, "shelter in place" policies, or Coronavirus-related illness, you may be able to get emergency unemployment benefits. Visit USA.gov for more information.
Get a handle on your living expenses
Advice for Homeowners
Millions of people are facing unemployment right now. You may be wondering how you will pay the rent or mortgage.
First, don’t panic. You are not going to be thrown out of the house. Check to see the current government policies. For example, some states, including New York, are suspending mortgage payments until further notice.
Second, if your state is not suspending mortgage payments - know that the bank or mortgage company doesn’t have any interest in evicting you out of your home. Call them immediately if you are having a problem with your mortgage. They might adjust mortgage payments and allow you to make partial payments until you are back on your feet.
Third, note that President Trump has directed HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) to stop all eviction and foreclosure activity until further notice. Read more here.
Advice for Renters
COVID-19 is a nightmare for everyone. Landlords don’t want to lose you as a tenant. No one is moving right now, and they might have trouble finding another tenant if they lose you. Because of this, your landlord might be willing to work with you. Give your landlord a heads-up about your situation. Additionally, many cities have placed regulations on evictions so that you cannot be evicted. Read more here.
Reach out to the utility companies
Don’t worry about your electricity or gas being turned off during this crisis. Utility providers are giving payment forgiveness immediately instead of cutting off utilities. Call your providers directly, and let them know your financial situation. The same goes for your phone, cable, and internet. You need to stay connected at this time so that you can remain updated about the situation. Read more here.
Request assistance from credit card companies
Many credit card companies are offering assistance for those who are struggling to pay their credit card bills. From Chase to American Express, companies are allowing credit card holders to request assistance online. Assistance programs include reduced annual fees, waived late fees, deferred payments, and more. Learn more in this guide from creditcards.com
Lower your expenses
Look at your costs. What can you cut down or eliminate? Nice-to-have things such as take-out food, clothing, makeup, lottery tickets, and cigarettes (it’s time to quit, isn’t it?) can add up quickly and put a dent in your bank account. Avoid online shopping right now if you aren’t good at controlling your shopping habits. Reduce unnecessary spending while you are unemployed.
With many of us working from home or unemployed, and possibly homeschooling children, it’s easy to get frustrated or lonely. Have honest conversations with your family. Tell them if money is tight. They understand more than you realize. Keep your morale up by taking breaks, going outside for a walk, reading books, doing art, playing music.
We’ll get through the tough times. This will pass. In the meantime, stay safe, and practice social distancing precautions.
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