WalletHub financial analyst explains money options during pandemic

Rent and utility bills can be delayed
Posted at 8:40 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 13:14:12-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — With some people still waiting for stimulus checks and others unable to get unemployment right now, many of you may be worried about how you will pay your rent on May 1.

13 Action News spoke with Jill Gonzalez, a financial advisor from WalletHub, on Wednesday. She says if your finances are tight right now, your rent should be one of the last bills you worry about.

Currently, in Nevada, there's a moratorium on evictions, meaning your landlord can't legally evict you from your home while there's a state of emergency stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. But that doesn't mean you won't have to pay rent eventually. It just means your payment is delayed for now and could include fees and interest when you ultimately have to pay up, weeks or months down the road.

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In the meantime, Gonzalez says, in some situations, it's not a bad time to reach out to your neighbors about working together to ask your landlord to freeze or cancel your rent.

"If you're part of a big apartment complex, and you have a management company, now might be a good time to band together with other tenants to look into a kind of rent freeze or a rent cancellation. That's what people across the country in many larger cities have been doing, some successful and some not. But, what better time to do it when you have the time to be organizing right now?" said Gonzalez.

When it comes to your credit card bills, Gonzalez says there's a good chance you can get some relief on that debt as well.

"It could range from anything from being forgiven for missed payments. They could be decreasing your APR or interest rate, right now, for the time being. They could be increasing your credit limit if you do need more credit right now because of unemployment. It could be a combination of those things, but you have to physically call them," said Gonzalez, warning you will have to be more persistent about calling your credit card companies to get relief compared to your landlord.

Gonzalez says utility companies are also being lenient about your bills right now.

"Your utilities, your internet, your cable, electricity, water, none of those things will be shut off during this time for almost 100% of companies right now. I think the bills will come due a few months from now, but for now, you are offered this relief. Late fees are usually not being assessed by those utility companies right now either," said Gonzalez.

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And if you're fortunate enough to have a steady income right now, Gonzalez says it's a good time to consider certain larger purchases, like a car or house.

"If your finances are stable and think they will continue to be stable, if you were planning to buy a house, even in the near future, mortgage rates are going to be low for the foreseeable future, even after a lot of this has gotten back to normal. They'll keep mortgage rates relatively low. Home prices are going to start to rise after we start to normalize again. So, home prices right now are very low. So, that would be one thing to consider if you're in the market for a new home. If you're in the market for a new car, a used car even, I would say financing is actually better for new cars, as it typically is. But we're seeing rock bottom percentages on new car deals right now. So, that is something to consider, and again, you'll have more flexibility with the actual car price," said Gonzalez.

Finally, if you're looking for a good bargain, Gonzalez recommends looking online at some of the big box stores.

"Some huge retailers have buy-out sales where you can get, maybe if you wanted a new sofa or TV, bigger types of purchases. I would check there first, before the stores that are doing relatively well. So, I would check big box stores. I know that you're used to checking Amazon because that's where the rock bottom deals are. Well, everyone's checking Amazon right now. So, check the big box retailers first," said Gonzalez.

For more financial advice from WalletHub, click this link.