With an economy that is variously described as “teetering,” “worrisome” and “fragile,” many Americans are on the edge of panic. We are “Bracing for a recession, though actual behavior change varies by age and income,” according to senior analyst Anjali Lai at Forrester, a research and advisory firm. (Forbes.com)
Some of us—especially those with low- and middle-class incomes—have already begun to feel the pinch. In August of this year, 63% of consumers were living paycheck to paycheck, claims research released by LendingClub Corporation.
With skyrocketing heating, gasoline and food prices, without a subsequent rise in pay, it’s getting increasingly more difficult to stick to a budget.
What happens if you can no longer make your mortgage payments? Scary thought, we know. Whether you are in that position right now or trying to avoid it, let’s take a look at some tips.
Savings will be your lifeline
If you are currently able to make your mortgage payments but afraid it won’t be this way as rates and prices continue to rise, start socking away money.
Easier said than done, we know. But, no matter how little you can afford to set aside, it is better than nothing and it will most likely come in handy when you need it.
First, see if there are ways to trim your budget. Determine how much comes in and where that money is spent. Vow to stop spending on items that you can either get cheaper or do without.
Starbucks is a good place to start the cost-cutting, but you might consider brown-bagging it for lunch, shopping at discount stores, cooking dinner instead of eating out.
Here are a few other ideas to help you put some money aside:
- Cut the cable cord and opt for a Roku or Fire Stick. U.S. households spend, on average, $116 per month on cable and internet, according to Maryalene LaPonsie, citing data from Doxo, a bill paying service, at USNews.com.
- “JD Power told CNBC that the average cell phone bill is now $144,” claims Brett Holzhauer at CNBC.com. Switch to a low-cost service provider, such as Consumer Cellular, Mint Mobile or Republic Wireless, he suggests.
- Figure out which streaming networks you can live without and cancel them for the time being.
- Get the family involved in turning off lights when not needed.
- Switch from baths to showers and spend less time in the latter.
- Ensure that your windows and doors are draft-proof.
- Turn down the thermostat and wear more clothing.
Can’t pay your mortgage? Act fast
Foreclosure is the last thing you need in times of economic uncertainty, so treat the situation with all the seriousness it deserves.
The pros at the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (cfpb) recommend that you “… call your mortgage servicer right away. You’ll be asked to explain why you can’t make your mortgage payment and whether this is a temporary or permanent problem.
They will also want information on your income, any assets you own and your expenses.
Hopefully, your servicer has loss mitigation programs, such as a mortgage assistance program.
If you’re still not satisfied with the offered solutions, call the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline at 888-995-HOPE (4673). They will set an appointment for you to speak with a housing counselor to discuss your options in detail.
If you used a VA-backed loan to purchase your home, it’s important to let the lender know if you’ve received a PCS. There may be additional programs for these veterans.
Then, check into the VA’s IRRRL, short for Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan. It has lower funding fees and other attractive options.
Veterans who used a conventional loan to purchase a house might want to check into refinancing the home into a VA loan. This program allows you to refinance up to 100 percent of the home’s value. Contact your lender to get started.
Finally, should you decide to sell the home, please feel free to reach out to us.