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Tips for paying bills in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 10:43 PM, Mar 31, 2020

Wednesday is April 1st. Meaning, for many: bills and rent are due.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic however, some may now be questioning how to make ends meet

In this time of uncertainty, more financial obligations are in your control than you may think.

"Everyone in the world knows what's happening right now so most of those companies are prepared to do something to help," said Certified Financial Planner, Eric Maldonado.

Maldonado says a number of credit card companies are working with customers that call and ask for assistance.

"Call them and tell them you're having trouble because of the coronavirus paying the fee or the bill and if there's a way to postpone it thirty, sixty, ninety days without any interest or any fees charged. If not, is there any reduction in interest rates I can get?" Maldonado explained.

A spokesperson for Wells Fargo tells KSBY:

For customers impacted by COVID-19, we are offering fee waivers, payment deferrals, and other expanded assistance for credit card, auto, mortgage, small business, and personal lending customers who contact the company.

In addition, we suspended residential property foreclosure sales, evictions, and involuntary automobile repossessions. We encourage customers to continue making their mortgage payments if they can, but are granting an immediate 90-day payment suspension for any Wells Fargo Home Lending customer who requests assistance; we won’t be charging any late fees on these accounts or reporting past-due status to the consumer reporting agencies.

Following the end of the initial 90-day payment suspension, Wells Fargo has a number of potential options available — including a continuation of the payment suspension or a modification — to help mortgage customers address longer-term financial changes that may impact their ability to keep up with their monthly mortgage payments.

We’ll need to talk with customers directly to understand their circumstances and identify the best way to help them going forward.

But what if you're concerned about keeping the lights on?

PG&E says they're working with customers as well.

"We're suspending service disconnections for nonpayment and we're waiving security deposits," explained Suzanne Hosn, a Spokesperson for Pacific Gas and Electric Company. "We're also implementing flexible payment plan options, and we're providing additional support for low income and our medical baseline customers."

For those looking to sign up for assistance with PG&E, click here.

Insurance companies are also taking steps to help customers as well.

A spokesperson for State Farm tells KSBY:

State Farm is here to help our customers in these challenging times. Our mission to help people continues to guide our actions. We’re in this together. We encourage customers facing financial challenges to call their State Farm agent. State Farm agents are working with their customers one-on-one providing payment options. Each customer’s situation is unique. A conversation with their agent will help address options such as payment plans and discounts. Many agent offices are running virtually and can assist customers via phone or email. Check statefarm.com® [statefarm.com] for agent contact information and for updates on the State Farm response to COVID-19. Customers with questions about their State Farm Bank account can call 1-877-SF4-BANK.

As you evaluate your budget of what you can still pay, Maldonado says separate everything into two columns: "Necessities vs Discretionary." Then, see what you can remove from your discretionary columns like subscription services or online shopping.

He says the biggest mistake you can make right now is assuming companies will make all these modifications for you.

"I would be doing some Google searches and asking maybe people that are familiar with banking and loans and unemployment how to access those resources," Maldonado said.

Maldonado says he is offering free financial advice during the pandemic.

For information on how to contact him, click here.

With rent due Wednesday for many, Governor Gavin Newsom has put a moratorium on evictions as well as mortgage payment forbearances for up to 90 days.

For more information, you can click here.

Some may be looking to pay bills with the new stimulus checks that are being issued by the U.S. Government.

The checks that could be up to $1,200 are available to those who make $99,000 or less, receive social security, disability, or have no income.

The fastest way to get that payment is to file your taxes.

But with a record number of claims, it may take a few weeks before you'll see a check.