I'm going to tell you a bit of my financial story not to garner pity but in case you also are having problems making your mortgage payments in this shriveled economy.
I'm sure that some will think that this is TMI, but I've found that when you keep quiet about absolutely everything, nobody gets information that might help them. Plus, silence about life difficulties gives them an unnecessary stigma. If this story bothers you, please just move along to the next blog rather than post nasty comments. I want people to know that being knocked for a loop by the awful economy despite having been financially responsible does not make one a "bad" person.
My husband, Ed, was laid off after 14 years on the job in October 2007. He then started his own cabinetmaking business, taking out two business loans in the process, and had a very healthy income for just over a year. Then the bottom fell out of the U.S. economy and his income pretty much disappeared. I make a very good income as a freelance editor, but editing isn't as lucrative as many other professions. What I earn can't support four people, a mortgage, two business loans, health insurance policy premiums, plus the basic expenses of life in the middle class. (Both of our old vehicles have long since been paid for.) Ed has been working part time for a grocery-delivery service and getting a few small cabinetmaking gigs here and there. Put all of that together, and we're now scraping the bottom of our financial barrel. Yesterday, we closed one of Ed's two IRAs—I have one also—so that we can make our currently due mortgage payment and pay other bills. We're not yet delinquent on our mortgage, but we will be after we use up the other two IRAs.
I just now sent an e-mail to our mortgage-holder telling them that Ed and I want to apply for a "Home Affordable Modification under the new financial stability federal legislation" so that we can keep affording our mortgage.
I asked that they call us tomorrow so that we have time to gather all of the necessary documents (past tax forms, profit-and-loss statements from our two businesses, info on Ed's business loans, etc.) ready. If things work out right, the mortgage-holder, which is required by law to participate because it received federal bailout funds, will likely lengthen the payment period of our mortgage by several years so as to decrease our monthly payments. Lenders are just getting their federal info packets on this program today, March 4.
If you know anybody in the United States having similar problems because of decreased income, let them know that the earlier they take action, the more help there is available. The further behind they get financially, the fewer their options will be, and the longer they wait to take action, the fewer the available assistance funds there will be, so they can't let fear or shame immobilize them. Send them here.
The site may respond a little slowly because so many people are trying to access it. Anyone wanting mortgage assistance of various kinds should use the short questionnaire(s) accessed through the "find out if you are eligible" link on that page. Your answers to the questions will result in your being directed to the correct page for the type of assistance that you are eligible for. For more general information, go to the web site of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Be aware, though, that that site is also getting swamped as everyone remotely eligible for assistance goes there to look for it.
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