21% of Americans struggle with housing costs. Do these things if you’re one of them

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Housing is often the single largest monthly expense for the typical American. And with rising rental prices nationally, many people are struggling more than ever to keep up.

In fact, 21% of respondents in a recent National Endowment for Financial Education survey said they were stressed about their rent or mortgage Payments. If you belong to this group, here are some steps to follow.

1. Negotiate your rent

If you sign a new lease, there may not be much room for negotiation. But if you’ve lived in your home for many years and you’ve always been a good tenant, you may be able to ask your landlord to give you a break from your housing payments.

Why would your landlord agree to this? If you had to move because of unaffordable rent costs, your landlord would have to replace you. And that could end up being a problem.

If you move, your landlord will have to do credit checks on new applicants and take the risk of renting to someone who isn’t responsible or doesn’t meet payment deadlines. Or your landlord could end up with a loud or inconsiderate tenant who disturbs others and causes problems. So a landlord might be willing to negotiate to keep you.

2. Refinance your mortgage

If you’re a homeowner and you’re having trouble meeting your mortgage payments, it’s worth looking into refinancing your home loan. This is a particularly attractive option if you have an excellent credit score. If you do, you’ll be more likely to qualify for a low refinance rate.

The goal of refinancing should be to make your mortgage more affordable. You can do this by swapping a mortgage with a higher interest rate for one with a lower interest rate, which should lower your monthly payments. Or you can lengthen the term of your mortgage – for example, going from a 15-year loan to a 30-year loan so that your payments go down.

3. Find a tenant or roommate

Sharing your living space may not be ideal. But if you’re struggling to meet your costs, this can be a good solution.

If you rent a house with a guest room, sharing that space can be quite easy. If you’re in a bedroom or studio, you may need to ask your landlord to build a temporary wall to subdivide your space. In fact, if you’re a renter, you’ll usually need to ask permission to get a roommate, regardless of your home’s layout.

If you own a home, you may have more leeway in finding a tenant since it’s up to you. But you’ll still need to make sure renting out part of your home is zoning legal — and that the area you’re looking to rent out is considered viable space for a tenant.

For example, you might have a finished basement to rent, but you’ll need to make sure it meets the standards of the homes where you live. To obtain this information, you will usually need to contact your city’s building or zoning department.

Housing can be expensive no matter where you live. If your rent or mortgage payments exceed your budget, don’t hesitate to take steps to make these costs more manageable.

A Historic Opportunity to Save Potentially Thousands of Dollars on Your Mortgage

Chances are, interest rates won’t stay at multi-decade lows much longer. That’s why it’s crucial to act today, whether you want to refinance and lower your mortgage payments or are ready to pull the trigger on buying a new home.

Our expert recommends this company to find a low rate – and in fact he used them himself for refi (twice!).

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