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Help, my mortgage is due and I don’t know if I can pay it! Does this sound familiar as a result of the Coronavirus?

Are you stressed out at night with worry about your financial situation?

Help is available to many Americans but we need to be willing to ask for it. The sooner you ask for help you can develop a plan and sleep better at night. As a social worker, I wanted to provide an easy but thoughtful approach without pretending to be a banker. So, simply put, consider your financial health and your mental health in order to ease this particular stress.

I recently contacted my lender to explore the process of asking for financial help. Although I had to wait for a live person, I was pleasantly surprised to learn lenders are willing to work with you. In researching seven different lenders, one thing became clear; help is available.  Hardship forbearance options allow a deferment of payments to help in the short term without late fees or impact to credit, dependent on the lender.  This means in the short term, you may be able to work out an agreement with your lender to stop or lower payments for a period of time. Keep in mind you will need to create a repayment plan for the future.

  1. Call your lender to see what they can do for you. Keep in mind the longer you put this off the more anxious you may feel.
  2. Re-evaluate your monthly budget and check in with your financial health as a whole. Putting things on paper often helps to evaluate what is really going on. Speak with your local bank for some tools, utilize budgeting apps available on your smart phone. Keep in mind the money you may be saving by not going out to eat and driving fewer miles per day overall.
  3. Apply for unemployment. If your hours are reduced you may be eligible for partial benefits. Not everyone is aware, but yes this is an option. Having been laid off in the past, I can report partial benefits are for real. Every penny counts right.
  4. Consider taking care of your emotional health by accessing telehealth services, many of which are offered free or at low cost by your insurance company due to COVID-19. This process can be started by calling the number on the back of your insurance card.  Now, more then ever we need to find social connection and support.
  5. Don’t forget the positive effect exercise has on your emotional health to reduce stress. Many gyms are offering free classes via zoom and other platforms, in addition to free workouts on YouTube. It can be as simple as playing outdoor games with the kids, taking a walk, or hiking. Just do something you enjoy and have fun. Did you know exercise creates a positive change in the body at a cellular level?  Yep it’s true.

As an added bonus if you keep your emotional health in check your stress levels should go down. This means you will be more prepared to be a star employee when work picks up. Remember, the goal is to decrease overall stress so financial worries do not create increased anxiety and panic in an uncertain world.

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