One of the most beautiful phrases in the American labor lexicon is "paid time off." Or, one would think. But a number of reports are analyzing why Americans are just not leaving the office even when they have the right to. Why? When you can have a handful of days to get a massage in Bali, adventure through Rome, or pet some koalas in Australia, all while letting your bank account fill with your regular salary, why would you not take advantage? Instead, workers are coming in on sick days and leaving their vacation time in the dust. That means, they're basically paying their employers to be at work!

It seems counterintuitive, but our culture is one that fears missing out. American workers, especially those who can work remotely, are working all the time. Taking that time off means missing something, being unable to let go while on vacation, or having a huge workload to deal with before you leave and right when you get back. So many Americans say, "Why bother?"

Other workers have a different philosophy and think that their decision to take a vacation is a sign of laziness or weakness. But while you may think you're being heroic by forgoing your vacation, employers put that policy in place for a reason. It's to provide workers with time to deal with unexpected personal emergencies, sickness, and spending time with their families and friends without incurring debt. Paid time off is designed to give workers a well-deserved break. According to Colleen Kane of Fortune, "people won't take advantage of the policy unless the culture really supports it." Refusing this offer can have a variety of negative effects for both you, your company, and your family.

Burnout

We can only run so long before we need a break, a rest, and some nourishing food. We're human, after all. The same goes with work. We need sleep in order to feel fresh and motivated in the morning. In the same way, a vacation can act as a necessary bookend to a series of productive months. Having something to look forward to can sometimes be a distraction, but it can also be that piece of chocolate cake on the end of the stick, just what we need to make it through. Long bouts of work without a moment to breathe will leave us slow, tired, and more like robots.

Endangering Coworkers

No one should come in sick to work. Even when you have a simple cold, coming into the office could do more damage than good. First of all, you won't feel like yourself, so you won't be able to perform to your best ability. Being sick at work will also slow your recovery time, so instead of one day off and 4 other productive weekdays, you'll have 5 semi-productive weekdays. No one will be mad at you. In fact, they'll be glad that you took the courtesy to get better, and sacrifice yourself for the sake of the team.

The Cost on Businesses

Think you're the only one that isn't benefiting from using your paid time off? Think again. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, paid time off funds make up around 7% of total salary in the private industry. And according to The Wall Street Journal's coverage on a U.S. Travel Association study, unused vacation burdens businesses with $224 billion in liabilities. So, not using your vacation isn't just putting you at a disadvantage, but it's bad for the economy.

The Cost on Family

Your family is appreciative for all you do to keep bread and desserts on the table, and especially if you have kids, vacation time is a coveted time. Choosing to stay in the office means missing pivotal moments at home and time to make memories. It's important to be able to disconnect and spend time with those you love, because pretty soon the little ones will be off to college and will want nothing to do with you anymore. So appreciate your family, just like they appreciate you.

We work in an undoubtedly workaholic society, which has its benefits. Increased productivity is one imagined result, but unfortunately, humans are not designed to be working machines. That's why it's wise to take advantage of your paid time off and make the most of it. You deserve it.

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What do you do when financial hardship hits and you can't make your monthly mortgage payments? This is a question on many homeowner's minds as nearly 17.8 million Americans are reportedly unemployed during the coronavirus pandemic.

When homeowners face financial hardship, such as the loss of a job, they often look to obtain a forbearance agreement from their lender. A forbearance happens when your lender grants you a temporary pause or reduction in monthly payments on your mortgage. Forbearance is not the same as payment forgiveness, in that you still have to pay the entire amount back by an agreed-upon time.

Mortgage lending institutions differ on their mortgage relief policies and qualifications; however, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act were signed into law in late March of this year to protect government-backed mortgages.

Federally backed mortgages include:

  • Fannie Mae
  • Freddie Mac
  • The Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
  • The US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)
  • The US Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Under the CARES Act, homeowners with a federally backed loan who either directly or indirectly suffer financial hardship due to coronavirus automatically qualify for mortgage forbearance.

Even if your mortgage is not secured by one of these agencies, you still can call and see if you qualify, as many lenders will still offer the option in order to avoid foreclosures.

Under the CARES act, homeowners can claim mortgage forbearance due to financial hardship from COVID-19 for up to 12 months without requiring any documentation or verification. During the forbearance period, mortgage lenders cannot charge late fees or penalties.

Additionally, as long as your mortgage is current at the time you claim forbearance, the lender is required to keep reporting your mortgage as paid current throughout the entire period.

At the end of the forbearance, the CARES act protects consumers from having to make a lump sum payment. Instead, you will be given a repayment plan from your provider. Since repayment options vary, it's important you ask your provider about all of your repayment options.

Possible Repayment Options:

You may be eligible for a loan modification at the end of your forbearance. With modification, the mortgage terms are changed in order to add payments that were missed during the forbearance onto the end of the loan, extending the term.

Another option that may work for some is a reduced payment option. This allows you to keep paying monthly payments at a reduced amount. The amount missed is usually added back into the monthly payments at the end of the forbearance.

For example:

Regular payment: $1000 per month

Reduced payment: $500 per month

Payment after forbearance period: $1500 (until caught up)

Balloon payments, or lump sum payments at the end of the forbearance, are prohibited under the CARES Act. However, mortgage lenders may require homeowners who are not protected under the CARES Act to make a balloon payment at the end, so again it is best to check first with your provider.

Mortgage forbearance should only be considered in true financial hardship. In other words, just because of the pandemic, you should not take a forbearance on your mortgage if you can still afford your payments. Likewise, if you are able to start making payments before the forbearance period is up, it's best to do so as soon as possible.

The Next Steps:

Before you get in touch with your mortgage servicer, save time by gathering as much documentation about the mortgage as you can. Also, be ready to list your income and monthly expenses. Due to an influx in calls, financial institutions are experiencing extremely long wait times right now, and having your information at the ready will help.

Have questions ready to ask. Here are some questions you should be asking:

  • What fees are associated with the forbearance?
  • What are all the repayment options available to you at the end of the forbearance?
  • Will you be charged interest during the forbearance period?

If your forbearance is approved, make sure to keep all documentation pertaining to it. Make sure to cancel any automatic payments to the mortgage during the forbearance period, and keep tabs on your credit report to make sure your lender doesn't report the loan as unpaid.


For more information on forbearance, contact your lender and discuss your options. If you need more assistance with understanding your options, you can contact a local agent for the housing counseling agency, or call their hotline at 1-800-569-4287.