Prioritize payments during pandemic: Financial advice on what to pay and when

Medical Watch
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The first of the month and that means many bills are due, including rent and mortgage.

Financial expert Terry Savage shared critical advice on how to prioritize payments while taking care of yourself and your family.

She said the top priorities are food and shelter.

“This is going to be a painful time for many people making decisions about what comes first — paying rent or mortgage and putting food on the table,” she said. “Stack the bills up. Pay what you can on the most critical bill, the ones that keep your utilities on and the ones that keep a roof over your head. And save some money for food on the table.”

 In Cook County, evictions have been suspended through May 18 and the state has halted action while the stay-at-home order is in place.

Savage said communication is key and to reach out to your landlord and to companies and banks to whom you owe money.

“You must contact your landlord,” she said. “Try and document that with a layoff notice or even an email or letter saying, ‘I lost my job. I can’t pay rent.’ Make an offer to pay something. Do that in good faith.”

Even partial payments help sustain social order.

“We all live here together and those who can really do have to pay their bills to support the landlords and the companies … and (pay) their property taxes because those taxes go to pay our police and fire and, in many cases, our hospitals and public servants, who are working so hard,” she said. “We all have to do our part if we can.”

 Check with utility providers. Companies like ComEd and Nicor are suspending shut-offs and waiving late fees until at least May 1.

 Help is on the way in the form of government-issued stimulus checks. But Savage said don’t count on them this month.

“Right now a lot of people are keeping their fingers crossed for those stimulus checks. But remember those could take two or three months, or until end of year, to arrive,” she said. “Don`t count on them coming into your account tomorrow or even next month. It will take a while.”

 Don’t panic right now. Deal with everyday things first. But if you can, pay your rent and pay your mortgage. It keeps the system going. That is really critical at this point.

Savage has much more on the stimulus checks on her website including who qualifies and the amount of money you’ll receive.

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