Do I Have To Pay My Bills?
With many people out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot are left wondering how to make ends meet. Between normal cost of living expenses like rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, phone bills, credit cards, auto loans or leases, auto, health or life insurance, medications, groceries and no income coming in, what do you do? The stimulus checks only go so far for most Americans- if you even received one at all. With looming due dates on the horizon, your bills need to be addressed. But will you need to pay them all? Luckily, help is available- you just need to ask for it.
What Bills Do I Pay?
If you are struggling to prioritize your bills, make a list of what you owe and who you owe it to. See what you are able to pay and contact your lenders to see what options you have. As it stands, the utility companies like gas, electric and water are waiving late payment fees and stopping shut-offs. They offer deferred payment plans and have emergency funds available for certain low-income households. However, you need to call them and explain your situation so they can help you. It remains to be seen if these bills will be due upon the end of the pandemic or if they will be forgiven, so it is important to stay in communication with your utility companies so they understand your situation.
Leases & Mortgages
Landlords and mortgage lenders are generally being more lenient- some are offering extensions or waiving late payments. Though just like with your utility company, you are going to have to call them as it is on a case by case basis. Some landlords will expect your rent to be paid- others are more forgiving. But you should be honest and upfront with them so they know what you are planning on. The same thing goes with your mortgage company. If you are unable to pay them, let them know and see what they are offering.
Credit card companies are also working with their customers during this unprecedented time. You may be able to arrange a payment plan or a temporary credit line increase or even an interest rate reduction. The Federal Reserve cut interest rates, so make sure that yours will be lower, if possible. The most important thing is to give them a call because these options are not automatic.
If you have student loans, President Trump announced that the interest on federal student loans will be waved until the pandemic is over. You will have the option to defer them or revise your repayment plan. But again, you must contact your lender to see what they are offering as each lender is different.
Auto Loans & Leases
Most lenders today are providing their customers with deferments which are typically added on to the back end of their loan or lease. However, each lender has different options so be sure to reach out to yours to see what they will offer you. A great resource for what the different banks are doing can be found here. If you have purchased a new vehicle, some lenders are even offering 90 days deferred payments. With interest rates at all-time lows and with sales down, you can find some great deals if you are in a position to do so.
Subscriptions and Memberships
If you are struggling to meet your financial obligations, it will be in your best interest to make a budget to see what you can cut. Keep in mind that things like food, utilities, medical, shelter and your car should be your priority. If you can afford to make payments on these things- do it. Things like your gym membership, streaming services you aren’t using, season tickets to sports whose games are cancelled, amusement park season passes and the like should be at the very least paused until you get your finances back under control. This will keep some extra money in your pocket so you can meet the obligations you have. And you can always re-up the subscriptions you paused when this is over.
Last week, we discussed what auto insurance companies are doing for their customers as a result of this pandemic. We mentioned that some will be offering partial refunds or discounts and gave a comprehensive list of what you can expect from each company. However, health insurance, life insurance and other insurance will still need to be paid, so what do you do with that? As we have said, each company is different. So give them a call so you can discuss what options you have.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Federal Government has extended the deadline for filing and paying your taxes until July 15, 2020. However, they encourage you to file earlier rather than later because many will receive a tax refund that could be helpful at this time. The choice is yours, but we do now have an additional 90 days to file and pay our taxes. If you don’t think that you can make that deadline, you can always file an extension for another 6 months, giving you until October 15, 2020 to file and pay your taxes.
If you are struggling to make ends meet and feel that you can’t get ahead of your bills, bankruptcy may be an option for you. We make the process easy for you so you can find some relief during these trying times. Our attorneys are able to begin the bankruptcy process for you so give us a call today to find out which type of bankruptcy you qualify for and what you need to get started.