Do you assume everyone is looking out for you, or you need to look out for yourself? Do you assume everyone will tell you the truth based on what you believe, or that everyone has some alternative motive to have you believe as they believe? Since humans walked this earth there have been planners and gamblers. Planners do their own homework, they research issues, ask questions and assume that answers change over time. Gamblers throw the dice hoping that luck will shine on them today, they don’t see that the ‘house always wins’, instead they are looking for that one hit that will set them up for the rest of their life.
There are consequences for each action.
What does being a ‘planner’ or ‘gambler’ have to do with mortgages, car loans, student loans and credit cards during COVID-19? Plenty!! First, the year of 2020 will bring with it economic issues we have not seen in a century. COVID-19 has led to mass under or unemployment, businesses closing or closed, shopping centers and large commercial businesses closing and filing for bankruptcy. The quarantine has led to less driving. Reduced driving led to using less gasoline, needing fewer repairs and buying fewer new cars (all at a cost to the underlying industry). Our leaders are looking short term in how to solve the challenges we all face, but are their motives selfish (want to be reelected) or altruistic (want to help us weather this crisis)?
A forbearance is not a guaranty you can keep your home.
The CARES Act introduced us to federally mandated programs that offered the homeowner a ‘breathing respite” – no mortgages during certain periods on certain loans. First, the loans must be federally or GSE-backed mortgages. That means 60% of all home loans do not qualify. A forbearance means that payments are put on hold, not that payments automatically go away, or are added to the end of the loan.
Hundreds of thousands homeowners are going to be very surprised when their forbearance periods are over and they must pay all the missing payments immediately, or the lender will foreclose on their home.
Never rely on anything someone tells you, even if they work for your lender. ALWAYS get their promises in writing. What someone says today will change tomorrow and it is your word against theirs what was said. What someone writes will normally stand up in court.
There is no “one solution fits all circumstances”.
Planners pay their bills, especially their mortgage, if they have the funds. Gamblers jump on any offer (like COVID forbearance) even though they have the funds. Why, because planners look at the future, gamblers look at the chips in front of them.
Look for resources that have no ulterior motives, such as:
There are hardship programs in place to help homeowners who have been directly or indirectly affected by the coronavirus and are struggling to make their mortgage payments. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, encourages homeowners adversely impacted by the coronavirus who are having difficulty paying their mortgages to reach out to their mortgage servicers as soon as possible. As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau advises (link is external), “you can find the number for your mortgage servicer on your monthly mortgage statement or coupon book.”
“FREE” does not mean free. It means that you will pay dues later. It may mean your free trip to the mountains comes with obligations to attend two days of intense sales pressure to buy a timeshare that no one wants. It may mean you get a free puppy who hates your children (or it could mean life is perfect and everyone gets along). My point is that ‘free’ is never free. Take time to investigate why someone is offering something for free and what are you obligated to do in the long run.
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