Short of cash? You’re not alone

Running out of cash? Welcome to an ever-expanding club. With businesses shut down and layoffs and furloughs the order of the day, many people are watching their pennies and delaying payments on credit cards, mortgages, utility bills, and more.

Fortunately, some creditors are allowing customers to delay or miss payments without penalties or nasty reports to credit bureaus. Not all, but some.

With many Floyd Countians, Virginians and Americans still waiting for their promised “stimulus” payments from Uncle Sam and the Virginia State Employment office still trying to figure how pay, for the first time, contract workers, freelancers and others who are not employed in a job where unemployment is not normally available, money to put food on the table is hard to come by.

More than 415,000 employment claims filed in Virginia comprises close to 10 percent of the Old Dominion’s workforce.

At our house, home and auto insurance plans allow us to miss payments for the next couple of months and, hopefully catch up if an when things improve. Same to Appalachian Power, but they then filed for a rate increase that is not getting much support from the General Assembly.

JP Morgan/Chase holds mortgages for several homeowners in Floyd County and has instituted a “Mortgage Assistance Program” that allows customers to miss payments and then add the payment to the end of the loan term without penalty.

Other lenders also offer help but others do not. Same for credit card companies. Online information is often vague and waiting times for calls can stretch on to an hour or more.

One of the national credit rating services, Experian, is offering help in adding “personal statements” to individual credit files to explain being caught in the pandemic cutbacks.

While this might help, the odds say most Americans facing sharply-reduced incomes will end up with lower credit scores because of delayed or missed payments.

Many small business owners hope the new help package approved by Congress this week and signed by the president will provide much-needed loans. The original fund ran out of money almost immediately in the first stimulus package and many small businesses didn’t even have a chance to apply.

Will things improve? Eventually, we are told, but probably not in the short-term.

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