Ideas to Help Pay Bills During Tough Times
You’re not alone in trying to navigate the financial uncertainty during the coronavirus pandemic. 10 million+ American workers who lost their paycheck because of COVID-19 need to find creative ways to pay bills.
Here are 6 ways to get cash to help pay for your monthly expenses.
Apply for state unemployment benefits. Recent federal legislation expands traditional state unemployment payments from 26 weeks to 39 weeks. State unemployment offices are also administering an additional weekly payment of $600 to unemployment benefit recipients courtesy of the federal government. This additional $600 weekly payment runs through July 31, 2020. If you haven’t already done so, visit your state’s unemployment insurance website to fill out your application. Remember, this federal unemployment assistance now applies to self-employed workers and part-time workers.
Look to your retirement accounts. While not ideal, you can withdraw up to $100,000 penalty-free from your retirement accounts because of the pandemic. You can then pay it back within the next three years without penalty or being subject to annual contribution limits!
Defer a housing bill. Talk to your mortgage holder and landlord about deferring a payment or two. Recent legislation suspends required payments on certain loans and halts foreclosures for at least 60 days. But you must contact your lender to discuss the specifics of your situation. It may be trickier to work with landlords to defer rent payments, but many property owners have signaled a willingness to work with tenants over the next several months to defer or forgive payments.
Talk to lenders about credit card payments. Call your credit card company to see if they are willing to defer your payment for several months. While credit card companies haven’t explicitly said that consumers can skip or defer credit card payments, encourage anyone experiencing financial hardships because of COVID-19 to contact their customer service teams to discuss their individual situation.
Get the word out. Tell everyone in your network that you could use work. While the U.S. unemployment rate is close to 20%, that still means 80% of Americans are still working. You may have friends and family that could help you weather the financial storm for several months. But you won’t know unless you ask.
Downsize your budget. Now is a good time to create or update your monthly budget. Keep track of where every dollar goes. Identify non-essential spending you could put on hold until you find your next job.