How to Pay the Bills During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Man calculating his credit card bills while his family is on the sofa

The coronavirus has wreaked havoc around the globe. Here in the United States, as in so many other places of the world, people have lost their jobs and are wondering how they are going to pay their bills. If you are in this situation, it is natural that the stress of losing your job would only add to the anxiety surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. The good news is that this time of crisis is also a time when people are coming together and trying to help each other. If you are having a hard time paying your bills right now, below are some tips that may help ease your money stresses during this already difficult time.

Your Credit Card Issuer May Help

Credit card bills are still coming in. They may even come with a warning about late payments or an area that shows the interest continues to pile up, your credit card issuer may still be willing to help. Since the coronavirus has started to hit the country incredibly hard, credit card companies and debt collectors have been more willing to extend payment deadlines, lower annual percentage rates, and waive late fees. Some credit card companies even have notices on their websites telling borrowers to contact them if they are having trouble paying their bills right now.

Some credit card companies, such as Apple Card, are even allowing their customers to skip their March payment without accruing additional interest. Again, before you simply hold back that payment, contact the credit card issuer to inform them that you want to take advantage of the ‘skip a payment’ option. Just remain patient as you wait on hold for extended times. There are many people who simply cannot make their payments right now; the credit card issuer will get to you and will likely be more willing to help if you approach them in a calm and patient manner.

Help with Student Loans

People suffering from student loan debt are also feeling the crunch as the country tries to grapple with coronavirus. The good news here is that there is some available help at the federal level. Individuals who have federal student loans may be able to suspend their payments for up to six months. This proposal was included in a Republican stimulus bill that was introduced in late March. If the bill is passed, students with federal loans can suspend their payments for three months, and then the Department of Education would have the discretion to determine if the borrower could suspend their payments for another three months.

Again, like skipping or suspending credit card payments, it is important to talk to the lender who supplied the student loan. If you simply stop making payments, you may face serious financial consequences including collection fees, wage garnishments, and you may not receive federal payments, such as your tax refund or Social Security payments.

Help With Your Mortgage or Home Equity Line of Credit

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have already stated that they are willing to help homeowners who are feeling the pinch during the coronavirus crisis. These mortgage giants have created a deferral program that will allow homeowners some relief from paying their mortgage without worrying about facing foreclosure or accruing high-interest rates. This is great news for many around the country, as approximately half of all home loans in the United States are backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In certain cases, a homeowner’s mortgage payments may be reduced or suspended for up to 12 months. This is forbearance and homeowners who use this program will not collect interest fees. Once that period of time has passed, the homeowner will then work with a servicer who will help them create a permanent payment plan to reduce or maintain monthly payments. For many, this will mean a loan modification.

Use the Government’s Money

Recognizing the hardship that so many individuals and families are going through right now, the government has pledged that they will be sending a check to every single American who meets a certain income threshold. This was in response to a finding that 40 percent of Americans would be in real financial hardship if they had an unexpected expense that exceeded $400.

Although a final plan has not yet been reached, the Senate is currently considering how to send these direct payments. These payments are being touted as ‘recovery rebates’ and individuals who meet the income threshold will receive $1,200. Couples that meet a certain income threshold will receive a check for $2,400. The Senate is currently determining how to send it to only people who need it.

Whether or not there will be additional checks in the coming weeks or months is still unknown. However, given that a check for just over $1,000 may not help people pay all of their bills, additional checks may be an option in the future.

Use Retirement Plans as a Last Resort

Many credit card issuers and mortgage lenders are more than willing to work with individuals right now, understanding that this is a financially difficult time for most people. For this reason, it is crucial to speak to them before you withdraw from your retirement plan, such as your 401(k). You will still need this retirement plan for financial security in the future, and you do not want one crisis to take that away from you.

However, for some, the sad truth is that they will have to withdraw from those funds. There is good news here, too. The stimulus bill currently going through Congress will also allow you to borrow up to $100,000 from your 401(k) – double the amount you can normally borrow. Still, just because you can borrow that much does not necessarily mean you should. Take only what you need and leave what you can for the future.

Call Our Florida Debt Defense Lawyers

Now is a time that borrowers need lenders to be understanding more than ever, and no lender should be sending out notices of a lawsuit surrounding unpaid debt. If you have received such a notice, or a lawsuit was filed against you before the coronavirus crisis, call our Fort Lauderdale debt defense lawyers today at (954) 523-HELP (4357). We know how to defend borrowers against these lawsuits and we will put our experience and knowledge to work for you, too. Call us today or contact us online to arrange a free consultation with one of our attorneys and to learn more about how we can help.

Loan Lawyers has helped over 5,000 South Florida homeowners and consumers with their debt problems, we have saved over 2,000 homes from foreclosure, eliminated more than $100,000,000 in mortgage principal and consumer debt, and have recovered over $10,000,000 on behalf of our clients due to bank, loan servicer, and debt collector violations.  Contact us for a free consultation and find out more about our money back guarantee on credit card debt buyer lawsuits, and how we may be able to help you.