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6 Places To Get Financial Help Now If You’re Struggling To Pay The Bills  

Jean Chatzky  |  December 1, 2020

With federal pandemic emergency assistance programs and other CARES Act provisions on the wane, you may need help. Here’s where to find it.

Almost one-third of Americans reported a decline in household income since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Twelve  million Americans will lose their jobless benefits at the end of the year because of the expiration of benefits under the CARES Act, including The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program and a separate program called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Federal programs that allowed for mortgage and student loan forbearance are similarly coming to an end at the end of 2020. And thanks to the pandemic, unemployment claims rose again this week – hitting 778,000. Another stimulus program? It’s not looking likely we’ll get an agreement. Here’s how to make it through. 

1. Look for a survival job 

This is not a career job – it’s just something to keep some money coming in. Think about seasonal work: Delivery companies, retail companies, e-commerce companies with fulfillment centers  Driving part-time for a delivery service. According to the recruiting firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, there are currently 700,000 seasonal jobs looking to be filled.

2. Consider coronavirus hardship loans

Many banks, credit unions and online lenders are offering hardship loans on a case-by-case basis. They’re not consistent across the board, but they tend to defer payments for 3-6 months, and sometimes interest rates are reduced or set to zero. These loans are small loan amounts designed to get you through a particular period of time. They typically have no closing costs, and they’re designed to get the money in your hands quickly, often the same day. You may need to prove financial hardship – that, for example, you were laid off or that your savings account has run dry. So, where can you find one of these hardship loans? The Credit Union National Association says that 80% of credit unions are offering these to their members.

READ MORE: 6 Tips For Navigating The Holidays If You Took A Financial Hit This Year 

3. Tap into state and local resources

Some states have allocated funding for residents and small businesses, even landlords who are struggling — in many cases, the money is available in the form of emergency grants. Use to connect to support, food and other essential services in your area. There’s also a helpful tool developed by Stanford University and the Pew Charitable Trusts that can help you find out about the eviction and rent provisions in your area:

4. Look at income-based repayment for student loans

 If you have federal student loan payments resuming in December that you can’t afford to make, it’s time to look into income-based repayment options. If you’re already on an income-based repayment plan but your income has fallen, you can update your income information to see if you qualify for a lower payment — or even no payments — at

5. Pull money from your 401(k), IRA or other eligible retirement account 

Under the CARES act, you can withdraw up to $100,000 from eligible retirement plans without the usual 10% penalty. If you pay the money back inside of three years, you don’t have to pay taxes on it. If you’re unemployed, the situation is a little more complicated and may involve rolling the money into an IRA — just call your plan administrator for more information, and to get a complete understanding of the steps you need to take. 

READ MORE: 7 Charities That Are Helping Women Through The Pandemic 

6. Borrow money from friends and family

This is always fraught with complication, but yes, if you are struggling and you know that you have people in your close universe who are not, then having a conversation is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. Clarity and open communication are key here. If you don’t believe you will be able to pay this money back, then be up front about that. If your family member is willing to gift you the money, then what an incredible gift that will be. But if you do borrow money, make sure to get the agreement in writing so that you know exactly what you’re going into. Google “lending money to friends” agreement to find examples of a simple loan agreement that you can print out and use. 

… And if you’re able to help others 

If you’re not struggling right now, and are instead doing so well that you’re able to help others make it through this tough time, then look to make an impact where people need it most. I can’t stand to think of anyone going hungry, so I recommend checking out to support food banks across America,, which is aimed at solving senior hunger, and  You can also support local food banks in your community. And if you’re feeling as if you don’t have enough to give money right now, the Red Cross has announced a nationwide blood shortage. Blood plasma from recovered COVID patients is particularly appreciated to help others fight the disease. 

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