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Expert advice on how to make your money last longer during pandemic

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Posted at 12:26 PM, May 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-27 12:27:10-04

Some 90 percent of Americans are receiving a stimulus check from the government because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But it won't be enough for many of them to get through crisis, and they’ll still have to prioritize which bills get paid and which ones don’t.

Consumer Reports has some advice on how to make that money last a little longer. In normal times you might focus on paying down your highest-interest-rate debts first, but these aren’t normal times. You may have to focus instead on essentials such as rent, utilities, and pharmacy bills.

For people who’ve suffered a financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic, many banks are deferring credit card payments and waiving fees for a period of time. If you get a “hardship accommodation,” make sure that your payments are reported as current on your credit report rather than delinquent, so it won’t have an impact your FICO score.

You may have heard that the coronavirus rescue package may offer relief from mortgage payments, but the law doesn’t mean you can simply ignore your bill.

The law doesn't kick in automatically; you have to contact your servicer. And it doesn’t say how you’ll be asked to pay up afterward.

Your servicer should contact you about a month before the time is up to offer you a realistic repayment plan. The law applies only to federally backed mortgages. You can find out if it’s an option for you by talking with your mortgage servicer.

Consumer Reports says the most important thing to do if you're concerned about missing a payment to any creditor is to reach out before you can’t pay your bill. That will give you time to consider all of your options.