Struggling to Pay Rent or Your Mortgage? Read This for Your Options
As the economy continues to sputter along as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the employment rate is hovering around 7% nationwide. As such, it is no surprise to learn that many families are having a difficult time making their rent or mortgage payments. Also problematic are the people who are caught up in the cycle of having late housing payments that they can never seem to get caught up with.
If you are in this position, it is important to put a plan in place to avoid housing uncertainty in the months to come. Here is how you can break the cycle of missing or late payments.
Know Your Options
In light of the current economic and housing crisis, there have been various eviction moratoriums enacted at the federal, state, and local levels. Before you panic that you will be left homeless, you need to educate yourself about your current options. Because regulations vary by locality, be sure that you understand where you stand in regards to the law in your area. This knowledge will empower you to make the best choices for your housing situation.
On a federal level, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) passed an eviction moratorium effective through the end of the year. This legislation prohibits landlords from evicting your family if you are unable to pay the rent. However, you will still owe back rent when the moratorium expires. Remember that all of these protections will eventually expire. While they may buy you some time now, you need to plan for the future.
Review Your Budget
The general rule of thumb is that you should not allocate more than 30% of your income to housing costs. If you are spending more than this per month, it is likely that you are feeling the squeeze with other areas of your budget. Making a careful examination of your budget will help you do discern where you can cut costs. It may be that you were already overburdened prior to the pandemic. If this is the case, it is imperative that you overhaul your budget to avoid getting behind in payments even more.
Reduce Housing Costs
If you have determined that you are spending outside of your means on your housing costs, you are going to need to take drastic steps to eliminate this burden. If you own your home, you may want to look into the financial implications of refinancing. With interest rates at record lows, this is a great time to refinance your home to save on your monthly payment.
Similarly, if you are renting, you may need to consider downgrading your housing so that you can afford your monthly payments. Taking on a new roommate to help to split the costs may also be an option if you have the space.
Look Into Seasonal or Freelance Work
The good news is that there is not a better time of the year to generate some extra cash than during the holiday season. Even during this depressed economy, many companies are hiring workers for seasonal positions. If you can score one of these jobs, you may be able to earn the money that you need to finally get ahead in your housing payments. Because seasonal work is temporary, it is easy to walk away from the job without burning bridges once you have earned the money needed to get caught up in your payments.
If a seasonal position is not a good option for you, you would be wise to look into ways that you can earn extra money on the side. This is particularly important if you feel as if there is no other way that you can trim money off of your budget. Start by brainstorming ways that you can monetize your skills and talents. For example, if you have a specific academic niche, you may want to look into tutoring. With so many students learning virtually, there has been a sharp uptick in the demand for tutors outside the classroom.
While there is no cure-all solution for the current housing crisis, you will sleep better at night if you are able to break the cycle of missing or late payments. Once you get caught up, it is then vital that you have a plan to stay out of this predicament in the future.
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