Smart Strategies to Tackle Your Debt

When the pandemic hit and the restaurant that Eric S. managed in Brighton, Mich., closed its doors temporarily, Eric filed for unemployment insurance benefits. When the business reopened a couple of months later and Eric returned to work, his hours were cut in half.

Although Eric and his wife managed to keep up with their mortgage payments, the couple found themselves strapped for cash and began to fall behind on their credit card bills. By September, they had accrued about $13,000 in credit card debt, and Eric’s credit score had dropped nearly 75 points, to the low 600s. “I felt like I was losing control,” he says. “It also put a lot of stress on our marriage.”

The couple sought out a credit counselor, who helped them retool their budget—getting rid of their Hulu and Netflix subscriptions alone saved them $70 a month—and begin paying down their debt. Just two months later they had shaved $3,000 off their total balance. “We’ve learned how to manage our money a lot better from this whole experience,” Eric says.

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7 Tips for Starting a New HR Job Remotely

Byy now, millions of Americans have grown accustomed to working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic. And that’s not such a bad thing.

Despite many employers’ fears that output would suffer, recent studies have found that working remotely actually makes many employees more productive and engaged.

Furthermore, in a survey by PwC, most office workers (83 percent) said they want to work from home at least one day a week, and over half of employers (55 percent) anticipate that most of their workers will do so, after COVID-19 is no longer a concern.

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Buying Wedding Insurance During the Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic foiled many couple’s wedding plans this year, but at the same time, it has helped raised awareness of wedding insurance.

“When the pandemic first hit back in March, we were handling dozens of clients with cancellations, postponements, contract negotiations, relocations, and a flurry of questions from 2020 couples about how to move forward and handle their event in the safest and most reassuring way,” said Noelle Ahmad-Snedegar, who owns the Washington-based event-planning company Lily & Grayson Events.

“One question that we received many times,” she said, “and still continue to answer, is, ‘Do you think we should get wedding insurance?’”

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Wedding Canceled or Postponed? Here’s How to Get a Refund

Frank Dariano and Sharon Mensah had planned to marry on July 5, with 50 guests in attendance, at a resort in Banff National Park in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Canada. But they canceled the wedding shortly after shelter-in-place orders were issued in San Jose, Calif., their hometown. “Our plans really went south as the pandemic started cracking down on international travel,” said Mr. Dariano, an administrative assistant at an outpatient rehabilitation center in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Things got even worse when their venue refused to refund their $8,300 deposit. “We didn’t feel it was right to lose our deposit when no services had been rendered,” said Ms. Mensah, 36, a high school therapist in Sunnyvale. When pleading with the venue led to a dead end, the couple consulted a lawyer in Canada, who reviewed their contract and negotiated with the resort for a full refund.

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Jumbo Mortgages Are in High Demand but Harder to Get Than Ever

Mortgage lenders began to tighten their purse strings when the coronavirus crisis hit the U.S. earlier this year, raising requirements for all borrowers and for those taking out large home loans in particular.

Mortgages that are too large to be purchased by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the government sponsored enterprises that buy home loans, are known as jumbo loans. Across most of the country, a mortgage larger than $510,400 is considered non-conforming and fits in the jumbo bucket, though in some expensive markets the jumbo loan limits is as high as $765,600.

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Booking a Vacation Rental Is Complicated This Summer. Here’s How to Stay Safe and Get a Good Deal

Usually summer is the busiest time of the year for Tiare Cowan, a longtime Airbnb host in St. Augustine, Fla. But after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic in mid-March, Cowan, who rents out two units of her family’s beach home, saw a tidal wave of cancellations.

“We lost every single reservation through June over a three-week period,” Cowan says. “It was terrible.”

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Coronavirus ‘Contact Tracer’ is One of the Most In-Demand Jobs Right Now. Here’s How to Get Hired

States across the country are hiring tens of thousands of contact tracers to stop the spread of COVID-19.

It’s important work: Contact tracers help infected Americans recall the names of everyone they’ve recently come into contact with, and then track those individuals down to avert the disease’s path of infection.

Emily Gurley, a Johns Hopkins epidemiologist and the lead instructor of a free online course on the fundamentals of contact tracing, calls the people who fill these roles “part detective, part therapist, and part social worker.”

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Buying a Car During Coronavirus Isn’t Easy, But You Could Save Big

In the midst of a pandemic, buying a car might not be the first thing on your mind. But if you are willing to leap some hurdles, there are great deals out there, say experts.

A case in point: U.S. new-car and truck sales plunged to a 30-year low of around 633,000 vehicles last month, a 53% decrease from April 2019, according to industry analyst Edmunds.com. Automakers such as Toyota and Honda reported their sales in April were cut in half compared to a year ago.

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You Can Still Buy and Sell a Home During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Spring is usually the busiest time of year for real estate. It’s when house hunters and home sellers come out of hibernation mode and descend on the market in droves. But this year—in the era of COVID-19—is different.

The coronavirus outbreak has rocked the economy and upended many industries, including real estate. As Americans across the country are sheltering at home, many home buyers are left wondering: Should I buy a home now, or wait until quarantine measures loosen and the economy picks up again? The same goes for sellers wondering when they should list their home.

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Where Home Prices Are Heading in the Age of Coronavirus

Baltimore realtor Nicole Callender had five homes scheduled to hit the market April 1. Then the coronavirus struck and all of her clients decided to postpone. Now with home sales picking back up in the last two weeks, Callender is urging sellers to move forward, betting that life — and her city’s real estate market — will soon be back to normal.

“I have a listing coming up in Locust Point, which is a very desirable location,” says Callender, who hopes the house will soon fetch the $485,000 asking price. “The seller was on the fence…but when I sat down with them and showed them how quickly homes are selling in the city, they decided they want to list their home now to avoid missing out on a hot market.”

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