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What to Do If You Can’t Pay Rent

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The rent is due on the first, and there’s no way you can pay it. It doesn’t look like you can pay it for a while, either, unless you start skipping out on food. You’re at a point where some tough decisions are going to be made. What do you do?

It’s a frightening situation to be in. While I’ve never been in a truly desperate situation, Sarah and I in our earlier years faced a period where we struggled mightily to pay the rent and found ourselves late a couple of times. We found that having a plan, knowing our rights and talking openly to our landlord made all of the difference in the world.

Let’s start at the beginning.

1. Know your lease — and your rights.

The first thing you should do is dig out a copy of the lease you signed and find out what exactly it states regarding late payments. What are the penalties listed for late payment? What are the guidelines for eviction in your lease?

You should also make sure you’re aware of what your rights are as a tenant in your area. This list of state-by-state resources from the Department of Housing and Urban Development is a great place to start, as it will point you right toward what you need to know about the rules and laws in your state. During the current economic downturn, many cities and states have enacted temporary eviction moratoriums and rent freezes, which means that your landlord may not be able to evict you.

You may want to also look at current housing rules in your city, as some cities are offering rent assistance and other means to help renters during the current economic difficulties.

Together, these resources should give you a clear expectation of what your rights are and what the landlord can legally do if you are late on your rent.

2. Talk to your landlord.

Once you’re equipped with that information, have a conversation with your landlord. Make it clear that you are struggling to pay rent right now and discuss what kind of arrangement you can work out together so that you’re not evicted and that your landlord doesn’t have an empty apartment to try to fill.

The truth is that, in most situations, the landlord doesn’t want to evict you, particularly if you have been faithful in your rent payments and a good tenant up to this point. There are costs for your landlord in filling that apartment or house, and there’s a risk that any new tenant might be a far worse tenant than you. Plus, during trying economic times, every landlord in the world recognizes that many renters are going to have problems paying rent, and new renters that replace them may very well have those same problems.

All of that adds up to a simple truth: your landlord is probably going to want to work with you unless you have a bad track record of paying rent or other difficulties as a tenant.

Open up that conversation. Contact your landlord and simply state that you’re going to find it very difficult to make the rent this month or for the next few months until your employment situation stabilizes. Ask if there’s anything you can do to make this work for the time being.

Do this sooner rather than later. As soon as you recognize that you may have a real problem covering rent — or when you stumble upon this article — talk to your landlord quickly. Don’t wait until you’ve missed rent, because that means you’ve compounded the problem for your landlord. The more time you give your landlord to plan, the more likely it is that you can come up with something that works for both of you.

Remember, your landlord likely has concerns, too, particularly if your landlord is an individual or a small company. Likely, that individual or small company has a mortgage on the property you live in, so someone missing rent may mean that they struggle to pay the mortgage. This isn’t your concern as a renter, but it does help to understand that your struggles can also mean their struggles, and working together is often the best solution for both of you.

When we struggled with making the rent before, we found that simply having this conversation helped a ton. It helped the landlord to see that we were people trying to make things work rather than people trying to rip the landlord off. We weren’t being sneaky, we were real people who were really struggling.

3. Know what you can afford — and have a plan.

When you have this conversation with your landlord, you should have a plan in mind. What is the outcome you’re hoping to achieve from this, beyond merely staying in your home during this tough time? Are you merely hoping to stave off eviction for a little while? Are you aiming to continue to live here for a while and hope to come to an arrangement that won’t result in eviction? Figure out what the desired outcome of your conversation is before you even start.

If you’re aiming to stay put, one thing you can do is to consider what you can afford for rent right now and suggest that as a temporary rate. For example, if your rent is normally $700 per month and you can only afford $350 while keeping food on the table, suggest that amount. Ask if you can have a temporary rent reduction to $350 a month for the next three months or until you get back to regular work. This won’t necessarily be the plan that your landlord proposes, but it will give your landlord food for thought.

Another thing you can do, particularly if you’re currently unemployed, is ask if there are tasks you can do to help make up the difference. Can you take over the mowing? Can you do some mowing for other properties? Are there tasks you can do inside the property, like repainting? Those things will save the landlord money or improve the future value of the property while keeping you in your apartment or home while money is tight.

The point is this: having a plan in place gives you a clear starting point in conversations with your landlord. Without that, your landlord is just going to guess what your situation is and guess what you can offer and will potentially suggest something that just won’t work.

In our situation, it was mostly about being late with the rent rather than being completely unable to pay. We were very clear about our situation and asked if we could pay half of the rent immediately and the other half on the 15th of the month. We asked this in advance of our rent being due and, in each case, the landlord said, “Absolutely, and thanks for telling me in advance.”

4. Think about your next steps.

Although these steps may help you stay in your current apartment for a while longer, it is a good idea to start thinking about your next steps if you find yourself struggling to pay the rent in the future or unable to meet the terms of your revised arrangement with your landlord.

It should be obvious, but you should be aiming your efforts on getting yourself into a stronger financial state. Perhaps this means getting a new job or getting a second job. It may mean selling some of your possessions or finding quick side gigs to earn money. You may want to start talking to your friends about whether they have any inroads that will help you get a better employment situation.

Similarly, consider where you might live if you can’t continue to afford where you live now. Is there someone you can move in with? Are there cheaper housing options in your area? Start evaluating those things so that you’re not struggling mightily if you are unable to stay where you currently live and need to live elsewhere. It’s better to consider options now when you have some time than to do it in a panic when you’re getting evicted.

5. Be proactive.

The worst thing you can do is sit around, skip your rent payment, don’t talk to anyone about it and not consider any plans for the future. That is the worst plan you can follow.

Instead, take action. Find out what your rights are. Find out what your lease says. Figure out what kind of compromise with your landlord works best for you. Contact your landlord quickly and have a real conversation about your situation. Suggest a compromise. Look for ways to earn more money or bring in some short term cash. Look for other housing opportunities.

Don’t sit around and wait for bad things to happen. Step up, take charge, and make some better outcomes for yourself.

Good luck!

The post What to Do If You Can’t Pay Rent appeared first on The Simple Dollar.



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Finance

How We Deal With Picky Eaters

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When I talk about cutting your grocery bill, I often will hear from people who will ask, “What do you do about picky eaters?”

As you probably have gathered from our sometimes non-conventional menu plans, we don’t base our menu plans upon picky eating palates. Instead, we based them upon what’s on sale at the store and what we have on hand.

Our kids have learned from a young age that I don’t cater to their whims and wishes when it comes to food. We stick with a budget and we shop the sales and markdowns.

Much of the time, that means I find at least a few great deals each week on some of their favorite foods (and I try to stock up as much as I can when I do!). However, sticking with a budget means that I’ve at least somewhat regularly served things for meals that the kids didn’t think they would like.

When it comes to encouraging our kids to eat foods they either don’t really like (or just haven’t tried and think they won’t like), here’s how we approach it at our house:

1. You have to eat three bites.

I know it might almost sound a little juvenile, but for some reason, limiting it to three bites seems to be very doable for our picky eater(s) and they rarely complain because they know that three bites is all that is required.

Note: The adults need to set the example here. If Mom and Dad are picky, there’s a good chance that it’s going to trickle down to some of your kids, too. Set a good example of gratefully eating food set in front of you and not complaining about food… your kids are watching and picking up on your example more than you know!

2. If you complain, you have to eat three more bites.

It is such a gift to have food to eat and I never want my kids to forget that. Even if you don’t like something, you don’t have to complain about it.

So we’ve instituted the rule that if you complain about something, you have to eat three more bites. This cuts down significantly on any complaining! 🙂

3. Once you’ve eaten three bites, you can make something else for your dinner.

We’ve found that oftentimes, the kids will think they won’t like something at all, but then they’ll change their mind once they’ve eaten three bites and they’ll end up eating a full serving. If they still decide that they don’t like something after three bites, they can eat the sides fixed for dinner and fix something else, as well.

The kids know that they can fix themselves yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, scrambled or fried eggs, oatmeal, or mac and cheese to go along with dinner at any time — so long as they’ve eaten their required three bites.

That’s right, I let them fix it themselves (and they are expected to clean up after themselves, too). This keeps it simple for me, but it still makes sure that they are eating enough at dinner time.

As our kids have gotten older, we’ve found that they’ve become more accustomed to different foods because of this simple system. In fact, these days, it’s rare that they fix something extra for dinner — because the three bites rule really helped them to slowly expand their palate.

They’ve now become quite adventuresome in their eating and will often choose to eat something that they don’t think they’ll like just because they want to try it! I can’t guarantee that what has worked at our house will work at yours, but hey, if you’re struggling with picky eaters, let me know if you give it a try!

An Important Note: I know that some kids genuinely have severe sensory issues when it comes to certain textures of foods or certain other issues that are very legitimate reasons for them having a “picky palate”. I’m not saying you need to or should force a child to eat three bites of something — especially in this case. You know your child and their unique needs and I think each parent should decide what would be best for each child.

How do you deal with picky eaters at your house? I’d love to hear! Tell us in the comments!



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Here Are 6 Ways to Have a Blast at a Drive-In Movie Theater

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Summer is on its way. Wahoo!

That also means it’s time to start planning affordable family nights, now that the kiddos are home and don’t have homework to worry about. But that seems to be getting harder and harder these days, especially in a way that’s safe for everyone.

That’s why you should consider the closest drive-in movie theater.

Drive-ins aren’t merely a relic of the past — you might even have one in your backyard. A family of four can see a movie with snacks and drinks for around $25, at most.

Check out this database from DriveInMovie.com to see if there is a drive-in in your county. Next, here are some hacks to make sure you get the most out of your drive-in theater experience.

Tips to Help You Have a Blast At Your Local Drive-In Movie Theater

I know what you’re thinking: “What could be so difficult about putting a car in park and watching a dang screen?”

Well, it’s not difficult. But if you want to be comfortable and have as much fun as possible, here are eight tips for your first drive-in experience, courtesy of patrons and staff at the Lakeland, Florida-based Silver Moon Drive-In Theater.

And because it seems like everything can change on a weekly — or daily — basis, we’ve included Pro Tips to help you prepare for social distancing restrictions. But check with your drive-in before you go for location-specific updates. 

1. Get There Early and Grab a Spot Near the Exit

As the only option for big-screen movies in some areas, the drive-in is becoming a lot more popular. The Silver Moon’s website specifically asks you to try to get there early. 

Pro Tip

Many drive-ins currently require you to pre-purchase tickets online and restrict capacity to allow a full space between each car.

One, you won’t have to sit in a long line of cars and burn that precious gas. And two, you can snag a parking space close to the exit so you avoid the slow-moving caravan after the double feature.

2. Bring Your Own Radio and Extra Batteries

A battery-operated radio sits on the dashboard of someone's car.

Here’s the scene: You’re out with the guy of your dreams, who is totally impressed with your choice of a classic date night. But when the movie’s over, you turn the key to start your car and hear that dreaded clicking noise. Your battery is dead.

Don’t let this happen to you; bring a portable radio with extra batteries. You have to stream the movie’s audio through a radio, and using your car radio will drain the battery.

Pro Tip

Some drive-ins will not allow you to leave your car — even for the restroom. Plan accordingly.

Also, if you plan to set up chairs in your pickup bed or behind your vehicle, you’ll need a portable radio to hear the movie anyway.

Alternatively, you can recharge your car battery by turning on your car every half hour or so and letting it run for a few minutes.

3. Bring Bug Spray

Bugs are an annoying part of life in the summertime.

You’ll be outside for a few hours — whether you’re allowed to sit outside on your lawn chairs or even if it’s just with the windows rolled down — so pack that bug spray so you don’t feel like you’re actually in the jungle while watching “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.”

4. Pack Dinner, Snacks and Drinks

A box of pizza with a beer is photographed.

One of the best parts of the drive-in is that you can bring your own food. Why spend $12 on movie-theater nachos when you can bring some chips and dip for less than half that?

Pro Tip

Some drive-ins have had to close concession stands due to social distancing restrictions — and relaxed their rules on outside food. Call before you go to ask if you can bring your own snacks.

Not all drive-ins allow outside food, so check the rules before you arrive. Silver Moon does allow you to bring in food, but its patrons rave about the food. (I recommend glass-bottle Cokes, some popcorn and a Silver Moon pizza.)

5. Wear Comfy Clothes

A little girl plays in the parking lot of a drive-in movie theater.

Here’s another drive-in advantage: Nobody will judge what you’re wearing.

Break out your pajamas for an extra comfy drive-in experience. Or dress up like one of the Avengers. 

6. Bring Cash, Just in Case

A woman buys food at the concession stand at a drive-in movie theater.

Remember when people actually paid for stuff with those green paper thingies?

Drive-ins dredge up feelings of nostalgia for much simpler times. That might mean simpler times for your wallet as well. Bring some cash just in case.

Now that you’re a drive-in expert, all you need is a cherry red 1950s convertible and you’re ready to hit the theater. Just kidding.

Alex Mahadevan is a former data journalist at The Penny Hoarder. 

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.



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Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers – June 2020 (Updated)

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Updated June 2020. I’m still collecting points and miles and maximizing the value of my credit card spending. Things are quiet as credit card issuers get conservative, but that just means picking up some slightly lesser bonuses that I passed over previously.

That space in your wallet or purse is still valuable, and you should be the one to get that value. Selected banks are offering strong perks and $500+ value for a single card during the first year to encourage you to apply and try it out. These are the top 10 credit card offers that I would personally apply for right now, if I didn’t already have most of them. Notable changes:

  • IHG Hotels 140k/75k – 140k still highest ever, new 75k traveler with no annual fee.
  • Sapphire cards add some short-term benefits.
  • Removed NavyFed, added US Bank Altitude card.

If you pay off your balances every month, then you can join me and many others in funding a huge chunk of your annual travel budget with cash credits, points, and miles. You don’t need to be a “I only fly business class” world traveler. I mostly use my rewards points on domestic economy flights, mid-class hotels, and cheap car rentals. If you have credit card debt, you should focus on paying that off first as the interest charges could offset most of the perks.

This is a companion post to my Top 10 Best Business Card Offers. Small business bonuses are on average even higher than those on consumer cards.

Note: Certain Chase cards have a “5/24 rule” which is an unofficial rule that they will automatically deny approval on new credit cards if you have 5 or more new credit cards from any issuer on your credit report within the past 2 years. This rule applies on a per-person basis, so if you are new, you might want to start with those Chase cards.

IHG Rewards Club Premier Card

  • 140,000 IHG Rewards club points after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • Free Night after each account anniversary year (valued up to 40,000 IHG points).
  • $89 annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.
  • Want something lower risk? The no-annual fee Traveler version is now offering 75,000 IHG points.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

  • 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points (worth $750 towards travel) after $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • Short-term COVID-related benefits including 3X on groceries.
  • 2X points on Travel and Dining at restaurants worldwide.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.
  • Alternative: Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. 3X on Travel and Dining, Priority Pass airport lounge access, $550 annual fee, $300 annual travel credit, 1-year Lyft Pink membership.

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Mastercard

  • 60,000 American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • First checked bag free on domestic AA flights ($60 value per roundtrip, per person).
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $99.

JetBlue Plus Card

  • 60,000 TrueBlue points after $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days. Limited-time offer. See link for details.
  • Free first checked bag for you and up to 3 companions when you use your JetBlue Plus Card.
  • $99 annual fee.

Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard

  • 60,000 American Airlines miles after any purchase in the first 90 days and paying the $99 annual fee. See link for details.
  • $99 Companion certificate offer. Earn a certificate good for 1 guest at $99 (plus taxes and fees) after making your first purchase and paying the $99 annual fee in the first 90 days.
  • First checked bag free on domestic AA flights ($60 value per roundtrip, per person).
  • $99 annual fee.

Citi Premier Card

  • 60,000 points (worth $750 towards travel booked at ThankYou.com) after $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 3X points for every $1 spent on travel including gas stations.
  • Must not have gotten bonus from or closed a Citi Rewards+, ThankYou Preferred, Premier, or Prestige card in the past 24 months.
  • $95 annual fee.

Bank of America Premium Rewards Card

  • 50,000 points (worth $500 towards travel) after $3,000 in purchases within the first 90 days. See link for details.
  • 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $100 annual Airline Incidental Statement Credit.
  • Up to $100 credit towards TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee.
  • $95 annual fee.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Card

  • 50,000 miles (worth $500 towards travel) after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 2% cash back on ALL purchases. Plus earn 10X miles at Hotels.com through January 2020.
  • Up to $100 credit towards TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard

  • 50,000 Hawaiian miles after $2,000 in purchases within 90 days. See link for details.
  • Free first checked bag for primary cardmember when using your card to purchase eligible tickets directly from Hawaiian Airlines.
  • Receive a one-time 50% off companion discount for roundtrip coach travel between Hawaii and The Mainland on Hawaiian Airlines.
  • $99 annual fee.

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Credit Card

  • 50,000 bonus points ($750 value towards airfare) after $4,500 in purchases within 90 days. See link for details.
  • $325 in annual statement credits towards travel per Cardmember year (based on account opening date)
  • Up to $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
  • Priority Pass Select membership for airport lounge access.
  • $400 annual fee. (Bigger bonus, big annual fee.)

Chase World of Hyatt Card

  • Up to 50,000 Hyatt points. 25,000 Bonus Points after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. Plus an additional 25,000 Bonus Points after a total of $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months. See link for details and rough valuation of points.
  • $95 annual fee, free night award upon card anniversary.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.



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Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers – June 2020 (Updated) from My Money Blog.


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