According to the U.S. Census, average commute time has been on the rise, from nearly 22 minutes in 1980 to 26 minutes by 2016. But that's nothing to some of us who spend 1, 2, or even 3 or more hours getting from home to office everyday. Commuting is a major time suck, prompting stress, burdensome logistics, and, some studies show, could contribute to rising blood pressure, a poor sleep schedule, risk for depression, and not to mention, aches and pains.

But most people commute because they have to. They either can't afford housing in the vicinity of their office, or are bound by family. How do we know when a commute is too long? Is it better to move closer to work, or to get a new job entirely? We say, neither. If you like your job, there are ways to combat the commute and use it for good.

1. Consider mass transportation over driving.

We know—if you have a car, you're probably going to want to use it. While it's nice to have that space to yourself, driving can cause a series of adverse effects for you and other drivers. First, while driving, people often get distracted. For those of us with long commutes on boring highways, our minds tend to wander, or worse, completely shut down. Driving while drowsy is just as bad as, if not worse than, driving while drunk. Driving requires all of your attention, and taking mass transportation will allow you to get a few extra minutes of sleep, listen to an audiobook, or do that crossword puzzle. It's also less expensive and better for the environment, even if you do have to deal with people sitting next to you.

2. If you're ambitious, ride your bike!

Obviously, if you have highways and bridges to traverse, riding your bike might not be a great idea. Also, heavy sweaters, consider if you have access to a shower. But if your path is fairly straightforward and quick, riding your bike can be a great way to get out extra aggression, increase endorphins, and feel energized before your day in the office even begins. Plus, you can feel free to skip the gym. Business Insider agrees.

3. Make your commute time you-time.

With a little creativity, you can find so many ways to make your commute more fun and exciting. Make it a time for you (within reason—we don't mean bring a massage therapist on the train next to you). Most importantly, it is not a time you need to be working. Save that for the office, if at all possible. Your commute time should be spent reading a book, watching a show, or doing anything that can take you out of the everyday humdrum of life. Listen to podcasts or write a short story or haiku! The train is your creative oyster.

You commute doesn't have to be the bane of your daily existence. For more tips on how to make your commute a lot more soothing, check this out!

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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.