Permian Basin — If you’re like most Texans, the coming months are going to mean making some hard financial choices. Do you pay the rent, high-interest credit card bills, food, or medical bills?
Many formerly employed workers from Texas are having to apply for unemployment after being told to “Stay at Home” in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. Quiet a few Texans have been laid off, furloughed, or had their hours reduced significantly. Even if you’re one of the lucky ones who haven’t had your employment affected by the coronavirus pandemic, your 401(k) and other investments have likely taken a serious hit.
The coronavirus relief bill passed by the President and Congress includes $2 trillion worth of stimulus for the American economy, including $1,200 checks that will be issued to qualifying individuals. Experts believe this will take longer than Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s optimistic two to three week timeline. In recent history, the fastest the federal government has ever issued stimulus checks was six weeks. With that in mind, there’s a strong possibility your stimulus check won’t arrive until sometime in May.
To get your stimulus check as quickly as possible, make sure the IRS has your direct deposit information. To do that, you can check if your latest tax return included it, or if you haven’t yet submitted your 2019 taxes, make sure to include your bank information for direct deposit when you do. That way, the money will be deposited rather than mailed in the form of a check.
As the global community tries to make ends meet, the vast majority are still going to be coming up short in the coming months. Finance expert Rod Griffin, senior director of customer education and advocacy at Experian, provided an insight in a recent release. “Look at paying the bills that will keep a roof over your head, food on the table, clothes on your back, and keep you healthy,” Griffin says. “Those are the key issues right now.”
Communicate with all of the companies in which you owe money and explain your situation. Often, they’ll help you figure out a plan that works for you. You can also work with the companies you owe to create a plan to pay off more of your debt once you have more money coming in again. A big mistake people make is assuming that their landlord, lenders, and creditors know they’re going through hard times. You going to have to communicate.
There is the chance that not paying rent and other bills will hurt your credit score, but again, right now we are trying to get through this war with COVID-19 and it’s likely not going away tomorrow. Credit cards, student loans, car payments, and mortgages are reported to credit bureaus, so missing those payments will likely show up on your credit report. During this pandemic, there are state and federal entities (and some companies), that are reducing or suspending payments of mortgages and certain loans.
Griffin encourages people to get their credit reports for a comprehensive look at what debts they have and what they owe to whom. Many of your monthly bills like rent, phone plans, electricity, and childcare won’t be on this report, because they are not typically reported to the credit bureaus. However, if you don’t pay those bills, creditors can send your case to debt collectors, who will most likely report them as delinquent. He noted, “Once we’re back on our feet, your scores are going to improve again. It’s a credit history, but you can control it and you can change it. It will go up and down, and that’s okay.”
Given how swiftly the coronavirus pandemic has swept the globe, you might find some relief when it comes to keeping a roof over your head. So, what your utilities? Normally, utilities providers would shut off your water, lights, heat, or phone service if the bill goes unpaid. That could still happen, but in an unprecedented time of crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic, many governments and companies are freezing shutoffs. Again, Griffin says the best thing you can do is communicate with your providers that you are unable to pay the bill.