What You Should Do if You Can’t Pay Your Bills Because of a Job Loss

What You Should Do if You Can’t Pay Your Bills Because of a Job Loss

If you can’t pay your bills because of a lost job during the pandemic-related recession, you have options. It won’t be easy, but if you take care to cut spending on non-essential expenses, make time to negotiate with your lender, and file for unemployment insurance and benefits, you can get the help you need to continue making it through.

Cut Non-Essential Expenses

Cut your non-essential expenses. According to Scotia Bank, creating a survival budget can help you save as much of your money as possible and put the essentials first. Look at trimming your cell phone services, get rid of any services you can live without for a little while (such as premium cable television channels, newspaper or magazine subscriptions, lawn service, etc.), and get rid of your landline phone if you have one. Look at your usual expenses and cut whatever is not necessary. Until you have the money for it again, stop eating out and spending money on activities like going to the movies.

Negotiate With Your Lender

According to Roswell Infiniti, missing a payment can reduce your credit score or result in late fees, so you should contact your lender before all else. Negotiate with your lenders and banks to come up with a payment plan that’s manageable. It is sometimes possible to negotiate reduced interest charges or a deferred payment schedule.

Especially during a pandemic-related recession, some creditors may be willing to work with you. Some may not, but it is worth a try. Banks and other mortgage lenders face greater pressure to agree to mortgage modification requests, so you may find success there.

File For Unemployment

According to FindLaw, depending on your situation, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance and other benefits. The U.S. Department of Labor has unemployment insurance programs which provide benefits to people who find themselves unemployed through no fault of their own. During a pandemic-related recession, it is probable your loss of job will qualify you for these benefits. Check your state’s individual requirements in order to verify your eligibility. Unemployment benefits can include financial assistance, educational help, and even self-employment assistance to help unemployed workers start their own businesses.

Even if you are unemployed and don’t have the money to pay your bills, you can find ways to continue surviving. Stop spending money on things you don’t need, negotiate with your lenders, and file for unemployment in order to keep your head above water before you can get back in the game.

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Costs in Addition to a Mortgage to Factor into Buying a Home

Costs in Addition to a Mortgage to Factor into Buying a Home

A home is one of the most expensive investments you will ever make, but when buying a home, you need to consider more expenses than just the mortgage. Taking care of a home requires other fees simply to maintain it and keep it in good living condition. Here are three additional costs to factor into buying a home.

Repairs

Repairs can come unexpectedly, and they can drain the bank if they aren’t planned for. Before buying your home, make sure it is inspected. But even if the home is completely inspected and approved, things might go wrong. The dryer might break. The roof might need replacing. The basement might unexpectedly flood from a broken sprinkler pipe. Repairs can be incredibly expensive, with $3000 being average for many repairs. Plan to have an emergency fund for when things break and need to be repaired.

HOA Fees

Some homes come as part of a homeowner’s association (HOA). A homeowner’s association requires you to pay a fee and live a certain way to maintain the vibe the community wants to give off. HOA fees average $200 a month in the U.S. That fee allows you access to the shared community spaces, like a community rec center, but it also comes with certain obligations. For example, you may not be able to paint your home the crazy colors you’ve always wanted, or park recreational vehicles on your property because of the aesthetic HOA wants to maintain in the neighborhood.

Any Renovations

Another cost to consider would be any renovations you want to make on the home. For example, if, when you move in and you discover the kitchen is too small, you will have to pay the costs for a kitchen remodel. Renovations can be incredibly expensive, depending on the amount of renovating you want to do. Small renovations are cheaper, but the cost still needs to be considered if you’re planning on doing one after you buy the house. When buying a home, if you are planning on any renovations at all, make sure to factor those costs into the costs of maintaining a home.

Before you purchase your dream home, consider that there may be other fees other than those on the surface that you will need to pay, either monthly or when they’re needed. Buying a house is a big decision that comes with many costs.

How to Spice Up a Socially Distanced Summer

How to Spice Up a Socially Distanced Summer

Social distancing has put a damper on many summer plans. Instead of going on that vacation you were planning for months, you’re now unexpectedly stuck at home. Instead of getting with friends every other night, you’re camping on your couch for the fourth night in a row. Being stuck at home can be monotonous after a while. What can you do to change that up? Here are three ideas to spice up your socially distanced summer.

Pick Up New Hobbies

One of the nice things with having more down time is that you can work on hobbies, which can greatly benefit your life. If you’ve always wanted to try painting with watercolors but have never had the chance, you can pick up a set and some paper (or even have it delivered to your doorstep so you don’t have to leave your home) and watch some YouTube videos as you learn to paint. You can learn yoga with your children, or practice by yourself. Your kids could have a weekly arts and craft day. There are many hobbies that you and your children can explore during this time of social distancing.

Move it Outside

You can also move normal activities outside. There are plenty of ideas to spice up your backyard and make it your family’s new favorite “room” in your house. For example, if you like reading to your kids, spread out a blanket under a tree and read to your kids outside. You can even have meals outside as well as playtime. Staying inside is hard for children as well as adults, and if you have a yard, you might as well use it to your advantage.

Make Use of Video Calling Platforms

Yet another thing you can do is use video calling technology to stay in touch with friends and family. It can be hard to be distant from people you’re used to seeing on a daily, weekly or at least bi-weekly basis. It can be hard for your children as well. Instead of having grandma and grandpa over, do a video call with them. Spend time with your family and friends in any way you can—even if that’s only calling on the phone.

Social distancing has affected the world, but don’t let it get your summer down. Use the free time you have to help yourself and your family grow. You won’t regret it.

Here’s another article you might like: 3 Preventative Home Maintenance Tasks That Can Save You Money in the Long Run

3 Home Additions That Help You Lower Your AC Bill

3 Home Additions That Help You Lower Your AC Bill

Your air conditioning bill is likely rising along with the summer temperatures. While you cannot control the weather, you can take some small and simple, yet effective actions to keep that bill as low as possible. Here are three home additions that can help you lower your air conditioning bill.

Add Reflective Film to the Windows

Reflective film can direct some of the sun’s heat away from the house, preventing heat retention and reducing the need for you to run your air conditioner.

You can also reduce the amount of sunlight in your home by installing sunlight-blocking curtains, window shades, or blinds. Adding these sun-blocking features to your windows doesn’t have to mean that you’ll lose all that gorgeous natural light in your home—you can use them strategically during the hottest parts of the day, but open them when temperatures are cooler in the mornings and evenings.

Add a Programmable Thermostat

Adding a programmable thermostat is a smart idea because it can automatically adjust the temperature settings in your house. You can lower the cost of your bill by setting the AC to 80 degrees when you aren’t home during the summer.

Another way you can use your thermostat to lower your AC bill is setting it at a few degrees higher during the day, then making use of ceiling fans to circulate the air throughout your house. Coupling your AC and ceiling fan usage can help you save money while staying cool. However, make sure to turn off your ceiling fans when you leave the house, since these do not actually lower the temperature of your home; they merely create a wind-chill effect.

Add Some Greenery

Adding trees to your yard can block some of the sunlight and heat from getting to the house. Additionally, planting shrubbery near an outdoor AC unit can help it run more efficiently. Some experts have said that strategically landscaping your yard with trees and shrubs can save you up to 25 percent in energy bills. As you plan to add some greenery in your yard, consider planting trees to the east and west sides of your home. These are the areas directly affected as the sun travels during the morning and afternoon. Of the two, the west side of your home should be the highest priority, because the sun’s intensity is highest in the afternoon.

If you’re looking to lower your AC bill this summer, consider these three smart additions to your home. Reflective window coverings, a programmable thermostat, and trees and shrubs are great, creative ways to save money and stay cool at the same time.

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How to Negotiate Your Way to the Best Deals

How to Negotiate Your Way to the Best Deals

Negotiating is a skill that is essential to life. It is important to effectively communicate with the people we work with, the people we live with, and the people we shop from. You can get the best deals if you’re willing to put in a little extra effort. Here are some skills to know when negotiating your way to the best deal.

Gather Information

One of the first things you should do as a buyer is do your research, no matter the thing you are looking to buy. For example, you should be prepared with a few questions when buying a car from a dealer. Gathering information may sound like a thankless job because it takes a lot of time and effort, but it is worth it because it makes you more knowledgeable as a buyer, which in turn, allows you to get better deals.

Be Bold

Confidence is important in negotiating. If you’re not confident, the seller can usually tell, and you’ll likely end up having to spend more money on the product you’re buying. Don’t be demanding, but do be confident. You’re the one with the power as you are the one purchasing the buyer’s product. Be willing to make an offer first, as people are frequently hesitant to initiate a price. Being confident allows you to maintain your ground and it can allow you to achieve better deals.

Take Your Time

When negotiating, don’t be in a rush. If you can, take someone with you that you can counsel with, as it is helpful to know you’re not making negotiating decisions on your own. As you negotiate, take your time to think of responses to their offers. When you’ve concluded the meeting, and are still up for negotiation, if you can, ask for some extra time to mull it over or discuss it with other people before you officially conclude negotiations. Taking the time to think about your purchase will give you greater power as a buyer and will help you avoid rushing into hasty purchasing decisions.

Gaining the best deals is something that you can do, even though it might take you outside of your comfort zone. Do your research, be confident in the negotiating process, and take your time as you negotiate. You can be a good negotiator and secure the best deals, but only if you put in the time to practice negotiating skills.

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3 Preventative Home Maintenance Tasks That Can Save You Money in the Long Run

3 Preventative Home Maintenance Tasks That Can Save You Money in the Long Run

Being frugal is a good thing. However, if that prevents you from performing a maintenance task, this could result in a much more expensive repair down the road. When it comes to maintaining a home, you want to do all you can to prevent serious problems from happening. Doing so can help you save money and keep your house nice and well kept.

Repave the Driveway

Unless you are experienced in working with concrete and asphalt, this may be something you want to hire a professional to do. One of the main points of performing maintenance on the driveway is to prevent having to redo the entire driveway. This can be done by using a sealcoat. There are several benefits of sealcoating your driveway that you don’t want to miss out on. This can help prevent cracks and other serious damage. If that starts to happen, it can become very expensive to repair.

Clear and Clean the Gutters

People often forget to clean their gutters and don’t realize how dirty they are. If you let them get too dirty and clogged, you can deal with major problems. Clogged gutters lead to water pooling on your roof. Not only could this lead to water damage, but this is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes and other pests. This is a task that you can do yourself. The best way to clean your gutter is with a power washer. The heavy stream of water will wash away all the dirt, twigs, and leaves that have built up in your gutter over the years.

Drain Cleaning

Every couple of years, you should hire a plumber to come in and clean your drains. This will get rid of any debris and sludge that is starting to clog your pipes cleared out. If you don’t clean your drain, you may wake up one day to find that your pipes are clogged, and your sewage line is backing up. That is a smelly, unpleasant, and expensive mess you don’t want to deal with.

If you are on a tight budget, it may be difficult to spend money on home maintenance and repairs, but it can save you from a lot of heartache in the future. It will be much more difficult to finance the larger repairs that will come if you ignore the problems early one. By repaving the driveway, cleaning and clearing the gutters, and cleaning your pipes and drain, you not only will save yourself some time, but also money down the road.

Here’s another article you might like: How to Keep Spending Down During Your Home Remodeling Project