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Money Management

Getting a Loan in a Crisis

Don’t accept the first wad of cash someone hands you.

An unfortunate truth of this whole coronavirus thing is that a lot of people work jobs that can’t be performed from home. Some businesses are being good guys about this, offering paid time off, but many either can’t or won’t. If you can’t come into to work, they’re not paying, viral pandemic or not. In times like these, you might need to consider taking out a loan to make ends meet until things smooth over. The difference between now and doing this normally is that in a financial crisis, people tend to play a little more fast and loose with their money, and certain unsavory types may seek to take advantage of you.

Payday loans, for example, can take a pretty big bite out of you. You might have heard that interest rates are currently near zero, but an important clarification on that is that only applies to federally-approved banking institutions. Little places in a shopping plaza that offer payday loans are under no such restriction. Payday loans are intended to be a short-term solution for obtaining relatively small amounts of money, but in that short term, their unchained interest rate can soar far beyond what you initially borrowed. Paying back a loan is going to be hard enough if you don’t have a steady income; paying back a ballooning loan in a couple of weeks is nearly impossible without a steady income.

If you need some quick cash, you might want to try a home equity loan. I know that sounds like a terrible idea; the housing market was one of the major contributors to the 2008 recession, after all. But actually, due to the Fed slashing rates, you can get a decent sum of money with some much more reasonable mortgage payments. And while a new mortgage obviously isn’t a fun prospect, no one is expecting you to pay it back immediately, which will hopefully give things some time to calm down and get you back to your job.

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