The global coronavirus pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation impacting Americans’ daily lives. For many, that means uncertainty surrounding job status, income and finances.
Here, we have compiled links to numerous financial resources to help people navigate through this difficult time.
Planning a budget will help you allocate and stretch your financial resources in the coming weeks and months. The recently passed CARES Act is designed to help Americans make it through this uncertain time. Beginning in late April, individuals with incomes up to $75,000 and married couples with incomes up to $150,000 will receive one-time payments of $1,200 and $2,400, respectively. Households with children under the age of 17 will receive an additional $500 per child. Individuals with incomes between $75,000 -$99,000 and married couples with incomes between $150,000 - $198,000 will receive lower payments on a sliding scale.
The IRS began directly depositing these payments into Americans’ bank accounts on Monday, 4.14. Visit IRS.gov to check the status of your pending payment or enter direct deposit information.
- Here’s how you can make the most of your stimulus payment.
- Our expenses calculator can help you quickly put together a basic budget.
- Be sure your budget includes fixed, variable and periodic expenses.
- Here are tips to help you plan a workable budget and how to budget with inconsistent income.
- When money is tight, here’s the order in which to pay bills.
As states see record numbers of unemployment claims, the federal government will provide additional assistance beyond standard unemployment benefits. The Extended Unemployment Insurance (UI) program:
- Offers unemployed workers an additional $600 per week for four months, above and beyond to what state UI programs pay.
- Applies to self-employed, independent contractors and gig economy workers.
- Extends UI benefits through Dec. 31 for eligible workers.
Credit & Debt
Many creditors and services providers are in the process of creating and implementing policies to assist consumers through this crisis. Until those are fully rolled out, here is general information on how to work with creditors if you are having trouble paying bills.
We encourage you to contact creditors and lenders as soon as you realize you won’t be able to make a payment. The quicker you act, the more options you’ll have available.
Click here for credit card issuer contact information, as well as the steps that are being taken for those impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
Keep in mind, most creditors and banks are operating with a reduced workforce, so patience is key. See the types of relief creditors are offering.
- You may be able to negotiate lower credit card interest rates.
- If your income is temporarily reduced, consider credit card hardship programs.
- Here’s what to do if you can’t pay the mortgage or make your vehicle payment.
- Some tips to get through a cash crunch without using credit cards.
- A credit card cash advance might come in handy, but try these alternatives first.
The Department of Education is taking steps to help ease student loan borrowers’ financial burdens.
- As of Friday, March 27, 2020, most federal student loan payments are suspended until September 30, 2020. No interest will accrue, and failure to pay during this period will not affect credit scores or a borrower’s qualifications for loan forgiveness programs.
- The bill also suspends any wage garnishments or tax refund reductions for borrowers whose federal student loans are currently in default.
NOTE: Certain federal loans are excluded from this relief. They are:
- Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans owned by commercial lenders
- College-owned Perkins Loans
Borrowers should have already received direct communication from their loan servicer(s) with more information. If you have not, or if you still have questions, call your loan servicer(s) or talk with one of our certified student loan counselors.
A number of federal agencies have created resource pages for homeowners facing hardships and who may be unable to pay their mortgages.
- The Federal Housing Finance Agency provides resources for homeowners and renters.
- The Federal Housing Administration highlights options for homeowners with FHA, VA and USDA mortgage loans.
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has compiled resources for homeowners and renters on its COVID-19 housing resource page.
Other resources are available from additional organizations including:
- The Homeownership Preservation Foundation’s Hope Hotline offers 24/7 access to home counselors who can provide guidance and additional resources for struggling homeowners: 888-995-HOPE (4673).
- The National Housing Conference’s COVID-19 Housing Resource Center has compiled resources and information from every facet of the housing industry including for homeowners and renters.
- Fannie Mae has created a resource page explaining homeowners’ options if facing financial hardship during the pandemic.
- Freddie Mac has created a resource page for homeowners facing financial hardship and who may be unable to pay their mortgage.
- Bankrate has compiled a mortgage relief guide with information on forbearance programs, foreclosure freezes and more.
If you are struggling with paying your mortgage, Keep Home offers a number of educational resources:
- What to do in a crisis if you’re worried about paying your mortgage
- How to catch up if you’ve fallen behind on your mortgage
- Loan assistance for veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic
Several banks and mortgage lenders are offering forbearance or other programs for struggling borrowers. Here’s a list of individual banks providing relief for mortgage borrowers:
You can defer your payment for up to 120 days with no impact to your credit (starting from the day you contact us; interest will still accrue, but we won’t charge late fees on payments due during this time). More info on Ally’s COVID-19 response.
Citi's mortgage sub-servicer Cenlar FSB is offering 90-day forbearance for Citi's mortgage loans where the borrower is experiencing hardship, during which there will be no negative reporting to the credit bureaus for up-to-date customers. In addition, foreclosures and evictions have been paused. For questions:
- Call 855-839-6253, Monday–to Friday, 8:30am–to 8pmET and Saturday, 12pm–to 4pm ET
- Or visit Cenlar's website
Fifth Third Bank
Fifth Third is offering up to 180-day payment forbearance with no late fees. Mortgage customers in need of assistance have three options at the end of the forbearance period:
- Make a lump sum payment after the forbearance period expires.
- Agree to a repayment plan with our hardship team.
- Be evaluated for loan modification workout options to move missed payments to the back of loan, extending the loan term.
Because call wait times may be longer than usual, the bank encourages borrowers to log into their accounts to request hardship assistance.
Chase offers a payment assistance program for borrowers. Learn more at the bank’s resource page for mortgage borrower.
Borrowers experiencing hardship related to COVID-19 can apply for a temporary hardship program. Solutions include the ability to postpone or reduce the payment due. Borrowers apply by filling out an online form.
Programs are available for borrowers experiencing hardship, including a minimum of 90 days of payment forbearance. Additional details are available in this resource document.
Borrowers experiencing hardship can apply for an initial 90-day payment suspension, with options for extensions. For additional details, check out the bank’s mortgage resource page.
Food & Household Essentials
General guidelines recommend keeping approximately two weeks’ worth of food on-hand, if possible.
We also recommend following your state’s governor, as well as other local government officials, on social media to stay current on what’s happening closest to your home.
Current Take Charge America clients may access their account information any time at MyTCA.org