Either way, there will most certainly be people who find their personal finances in jeopardy as a result. My husband and I are fortunate not to find ourselves counted among them.
I’ve already been working at home as a full-time virtual assistant for the past few years, so my income source wasn’t really affected. When our state shut down everything but essential services, my husband’s employer offered him the opportunity to work at home as well. In other words, besides taking additional health precautions and changing how we shop, life hasn’t changed that much for us.
Of course, not everyone has been so lucky. But there are ways to prioritize bills during this crisis to ease the financial strain somewhat.
Bills That Are a Priority During a Crisis
1. Rent Payments
Obviously, housing is essential and, therefore, a priority when it comes to what bills to pay during a crisis. Still, how do you keep up with your rent payment with less, or no, money coming in?
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has issued guidance about housing during the pandemic. As you would expect, they recommend paying your rent payment if it’s possible.
If you can’t pay your rent they recommend that you discuss it with your landlord first to try to come up with a solution.
Know Your Rights
It also helps to know your rights. On March 27, 2020 the CARES Act was signed into law providing 120 days of eviction relief for those in multifamily rentals that are federally insured or backed. That means the earliest you could be served with an eviction notice is July 25, 2020.
Since you must be given 30 days of notice to vacate the property, you can’t be evicted before August 24, 2020. Additionally, your landlord can’t apply late fees or penalties for failure to pay your rent.
How Does This Help Me?
Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean you are exempted from paying your rent. The act simply protects you from being evicted during that period of time.
This is huge for renters that qualify for this protection. It gives them time to find another income source or come up with other solutions to keep their rent paid.
The link listed above for HUD also has other resources that might help you with housing issues and concerns during this time of crisis. You can also call 877-542-9723 to speak with a housing counselor at the HUD’s Disaster Response Network.
2. Mortgage Payments
If instead of paying rent you have a mortgage payment, you may still have some options. You might be able to enter into forbearance and pause your mortgage payments for up to six months.
There are some stipulations, so it’s best to check with HUD to find out if this is an option for you. Additionally, you can call 1-800-225-5342 for more information.
Food is also one of the main things you need to have money for during a crisis. You may be able stretch out or limit your shopping trips by using what you already have on hand and completely cutting out restaurant meals.
Your water, sewer, electric, gas, and trash are utilities that are necessary even during a crisis. If you’re having trouble keeping these bills paid, be sure to contact your service providers for options.
While not everyone takes medications regularly, many people do. Personally, I take a medication that is dangerous to go without, which is why I included medications on this list.
If you’re having trouble paying for medications during COVID-19, check with your pharmacy and medical provider to see if they can help or provide direction.
Keeping up with your health, auto, home and life insurance payments is also important even when times are tough. I encourage you to check with each of these companies if you’re having trouble paying any of these bills. They may have some options that can help.
Car payments, gas, and vehicle maintenance are also important bills to pay at this time. Without transportation it can be much harder to get food, medicine, and other necessities.
Work with your lender if you’re having difficulty making car payments. More than likely they’ll accept partial payments or offer other solutions to help you get through the crisis.
Being creative with your bills is a great way to help during a crisis. For instance, you might try bartering with other people to avoid making large purchases and save money for other necessities.
Additionally, you could try getting a side hustle to help keep your bills paid. Even with many others unemployed and competing with you for jobs there may be the perfect one out there for you.
While keeping up with bills and prioritizing them during a crisis is difficult, it can be done. Additionally, government relief is available.
Just this week stimulus checks began rolling out to ease the strain of the virus on personal finances. If you need to check the status of your payment, the IRS can help.
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Are you having trouble prioritizing your bills during this crisis? Which bills are you paying first?