It's now almost May, which means the rent, mortgage, car payment and other bills are now due again. But what if you're out of work or have reduced hours and can't pay them all?
Many families have yet to see their stimulus check, or have not yet received an unemployment check, leaving their bank account on fumes.
Chrissy Roberts is one of them. She manages a bar that has been in her family for years. With the bar closed, her family has no income, but there's still rent, a water bill and even a cable TV bill due.
"Even though no money is coming in, we still have to pay our bills and the rent," Roberts said.
Roberts is hoping for relief under the Paycheck Protection Program, but has yet to see it.
She asked about putting her cable account on hold for two months while her bar is closed, but learned the best her provider can do is let her delay payment for 60 days.
"We need a break," she said. "We need something or we are not going to survive."
Options you may have
So what can you do if you can't pay the bills this month?
With the help of the Legal Aid Society, we looked into what options you have.
To start with, prioritize your bills. Legal Aid's Nick Dinardo says rent should always be first, after basic needs like food.
"Tenants are still legally required to offer their rent," he said.
Can't afford the April or May rent? Many cities are prohibiting evictions, but the exact rule varies.
Many governors are asking landlords to grant small businesses a 30 to 90-day pause on rent, but states cannot force residential landlords to defer rent collection.
So you need to call your landlord and ask for a one-month delay in your rent payment if you cannot pay it.
Most should be sympathetic. However, Dinardo says you should not expect your landlord to waive your rent. You will still have to pay it at some point.
Can't afford the mortgage?
The federal government has banned foreclosure on federally backed mortgages (that have Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac behind them), but you still need to contact your lender, to see if your mortgage is federally backed. It may not show up on your statement.
You may also be able to delay payments for up to 12 months, if you have a federally-backed loan.
Not federally backed? Negotiate, Legal Aid says. Try telling your bank or landlord you will pay them after you receive your stimulus or first unemployment check.
"There may be those $1,200 stimulus checks, there may be other unemployment compensation," Dinardo said.
Gas and electric bill
If you can't make May's payment, most major utilities are giving a grace period and postponing disconnection, but you need to call and explain your situation.
Do not simply skip paying or you will be listed as delinquent (even if you don't get disconnected).
Spectrum, Comcast, Xfinity and others say if you call, they will not terminate you for missing a bill or charge any late fees during the shutdown.
You will still need to pay a small amount to avoid falling behind, so call your doctor. Sometimes a $20 payment will be enough.
Some lenders are allowing car buyers to suspend their payments for 30 , 60, or even 90 days. Check with your car dealer or lender.
Federal student loans are being deferred for at least three months, which means you can skip your payment and not be penalized. With private loans, you will need to call your lender.
As always, don't waste your money.
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