I work in a bar that was closed this week due to COVID-19. I’m scared that I am going to lose everything since I don’t have money coming in and my savings are already low. I’m limited in side hustle possibilities since I don’t have a car and can’t deliver food or drive people around. Where do I even start?
Scared and Homebound
I am really sorry to hear you are going through this. I’m sure it is so stressful and it doesn’t help that you can’t watch TV or get on social media without hearing something about COVID-19, aka coronavirus. I don’t think there is anyone that hasn’t been affected by this. In fact, due to the impact this has had on so many people, regulatory agencies have encouraged banks and lenders to work with customers affected by COVID-19. Many state and local governments are also implementing programs to help citizens and businesses that have been affected.
I’ve compiled a list of suggestions and recommendations based in the United States that will hopefully help with your situation. And just a heads-up—there is a lot of information below! My intent isn’t to overwhelm you but to provide you with information and ideas. There is a lot going on, and taking care of yourself and your family is the most important thing right now. Make a goal for how you want to tackle this and break it into manageable pieces.
If you live outside of the United States, please check with your local government offices for help and resources. The World Health Organization recently launched a Health Alert messaging service through WhatsApp that can help keep you updated.
I don’t know all the details of your situation, but it sounds like it would be worth looking into unemployment insurance. You can find more information about unemployment and links to your state’s unemployment insurance program in our expert guide to unemployment benefits.
The federal government is currently allowing states to amend their requirements around unemployment benefits so that people affected by COVID-19 will be covered. Find out if you qualify and apply for benefits if you can.
Homeowners: Many mortgage lenders have already put things in place to help their customers, like delaying payments for 120 days or waiving late fees. The CFPB has provided detailed information on how to handle this type of situation. You’ll want to contact your service provider and explain your situation and see if they will work with you. You can also contact a HUD-approved housing counselor in your state to find additional resources.
If you have an FHA-insured mortgage, the Department of Housing and Urban Development recently directed mortgage servicers to cease foreclosure and eviction procedures through the end of April. That should give you some breathing room, but only if you have that type of mortgage loan.
Renters: In many cities, residential evictions have been stopped for the time being. Not every city in the US has implemented eviction moratoriums, so research what is being done in your area. If your city or state has placed a ban on evictions, you should still contact your landlord and tell them your situation.
If there isn’t an eviction ban in your area, definitely contact your landlord. My guess is that they will work with you. I don’t think many people, if any, are moving right now. It’s in your landlord’s best interest to get a payment plan worked out with current tenants.
Many banks, lenders and other businesses are working with customers on payment plans. Lenders don’t want customers to default since it’s an expensive process and can ruin a relationship between the lender and customer. My suggestion is to call your creditors and let them know of your situation as soon as possible. They may be able to change your payment due date, allow you to skip a payment or waive late fees. It does not hurt to ask.
If you have student loans there is a good chance that you qualify for a deferred payment or reduced payment based on your situation. The Department of Education recently suspended federal loan payments and waived interest for at least 60 days. Private student loans don’t qualify, but you should contact your service provider to find out what your options are.
First, rest assured that there are no nationwide food shortages due to COVID 19. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act has expanded food assistance, including suspending the work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and allowing states to provide emergency SNAP benefits. While many grocery stores have altered their hours during this time, many are offering voucher programs and other resources to help their communities. Check with your local grocery store to see if it has implemented any emergency assistance programs at this time.
If you have a child, your area may be providing school lunches that you can pick up. Some restaurants, like Burger King, are also offering free lunches for children. Each area is different, so check your local resources.
I’ve listed several more resources below, but if you need help in your specific area please email me and I would be more than happy to help: email@example.com. The list below doesn’t include all lenders or resources. I’m hoping this will give you an idea of what your options are and point you in the right direction.
Best of luck, and take care!
When requesting help from any of these services, be sure to mention coronavirus specifically if relevant to your situation.
- Internet Essentials: If your household doesn’t have internet access, you may qualify for affordable high-speed Internet from Internet Essentials from Comcast.
- Xfinity: All Xfinity public Wi-Fi hotspots are free for the time being.
- AT&T: AT&T is suspending account terminations and waiving late fees if a customer can’t pay due to a disruption to the COVID-19.
- T-Mobile: T-Mobile is providing unlimited data to all users for the next 60 days. They are also providing mobile hotspot users with additional data.
- Verizon: Much like AT&T, Verizon is suspending terminating customer accounts and waiving late fees due to a disruption related to COVID-19.
- Electricity, gas and other energy providers: There are too many companies to name individually, but the majority are working with customers to ensure no one is disconnected during this time. Reach out to your provider so they are aware of your situation.
Banks and Lenders
- US Bank: US Bank is “actively looking for ways to assist our customers that have been financially impacted by COVID-19.” They have asked customers to call 888-287-7817.
- CitiBank: CitiBanks is waiving monthly fees and waving early penalty withdrawals from CD accounts.
- Capital One: Capital One has directed customers to contact them if they are in need of financial assistance due to COVID-19.
- Wells Fargo: Wells Fargo has suspended foreclosure sales and evictions, as well as involuntary car repossessions.
- Bank of America: Bank of America is directing customers to call them if they need financial support due to COVID-19.
- American Express: The American Express Financial Hardship program can help customers lower their payments, late fees and interest rates.
- Goldman Sachs: Goldman Sachs encouraged customers affected by coronavirus to enroll in the Customer Assistance Program, which may allow customers to waive March payments on their Apple Card without accruing interest.
- Many car companies have implemented assistance programs for buyers.
- GM activated OnStar for all customers and is offering free Wi-Fi connection for three months.
- Ford Motors is offering customers some customers the chance to delay payments. This doesn’t sound like a guarantee for all customers so be sure to call them if you are a customer and this is something you are interested in.
- Hertz Rental has waived the young renter’s fee for renters under 25 until the end of May to allow students to travel home to their families.
- The IRS has extended the deadline for filing and paying taxes to July 15. This relief is automatic and you do not need to apply for an extension.
- If you already have a payment plan with the IRS and you cannot afford to pay, contact the IRS directly.
- Many health insurance providers are waiving fees for testing related to COVID-19.
- Many have also expanded telehealth options so you do not need to leave your house to receive virtual care.