With countless small businesses shutting their doors in the wake of COVID-19 and larger companies closing temporarily, a frightening percentage of Americans will experience income insecurity in the coming weeks. Some will lose their entire paycheck. Others will have to cut their hours. And things are quite likely to get worse before they get better. In fact, we could see a 30% U.S. unemployment rate by the second quarter of 2020, warned St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard recently.
Clearly, it's a tough time to be a homeowner, what with the numerous expenses involved. If your income has taken a hit as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, or you fear it's about to, the good news is that you may be able to get some relief from your regular bills. Here are a few home expenses you may have the option to reduce or hit pause on as the current crisis plays out.
1. Mortgage payments
Mortgage lenders generally don't take kindly to not getting paid. But because of what's happening with COVID-19 right now, many lenders are offering leniency to customers who simply can't swing their payments. If you can't make your mortgage payment as it stands, talk to your lender about lowering your monthly payment temporarily or even hitting pause on your payments until your income picks up. Many are already offering this option.
When the country is deep in the throes of a crisis, the last thing you should worry about is having your lights turned off. Thankfully, many utility companies are already stepping up and assuring customers their service won't be terminated in the next few months due to a lack of payment. If this is a concern for you, reach out to your utility providers, like your electric company, natural gas company, and water supplier, and ask about deferring your current payments or getting on a payment plan.
3. Internet service
Now's clearly not the time anyone can afford to disconnect. If you're worried about paying your home internet bills, talk to your provider. Many are offering payment flexibility to customers whose income has been slashed.
4. Property taxes
Property taxes are collected at the local municipal level, and so far, there's been no official declaration that cities and townships will be waiving or extending property tax deadlines to struggling homeowners. But that doesn't mean you can't reach out and ask for some form of relief. If you pay your property taxes directly (meaning, not through your mortgage company), contact your local tax office, explain your circumstances, and see if they'll work with you. As is the case with mortgage payments, deferring property tax payments won't mean you're permanently off the hook from sending them in; it just means you may not have to send yours in by your town's original due date.
It's too soon to tell just how badly COVID-19 will hurt the U.S. economy. But one thing's for sure: It's already taking a toll. If you're worried about keeping up with your home expenses, don't hesitate to reach out and ask for help. At a time like this, you may be surprised at how much assistance you're given.