Our vibrant, animated country has been put on pause. Busy thoroughfares are now empty of pedestrians and previously crowded malls are eerily vacant, as millions of Americans stay close to home to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
If you are one of the millions of Americans on furlough or without a job, you may be worrying about where you’ll find the money to pay for your bills. Let’s take a look at what financial experts are advising now so you can make a responsible, informed decisions about your finances going forward.
Triage your bills
Financial expert Clark Howard urges cash-strapped Americans to look at their bills the way medical personnel view incoming patients during an emergency.
“In medicine it’s called triage,” Howard says. “Hospitals must decide who to treat, when, and how. You have to look at your bills the same way.”
Times of emergency call for unconventional prioritizing. Clark recommends putting your most basic needs, including food and shelter, before any other bills. It’s best to make sure you can feed your family and provide a place to live; mortgage or rent payments should be at the top of your list.
Paying for transportation
When normal life resumes, many employees will need a way to get to work. Missing out on an auto loan payment can mean risking repossession of your vehicle. This should put car payments next on your list of financial priorities. If meeting that monthly payment is impossible right now, communicate with your lender and come up with a plan that is mutually agreeable to both parties.
Utility and service bills should be paid on time each month, but for workers on furlough due to the coronavirus pandemic, these expenses may not even make it to their list of priorities.
Many providers are willing to work with their clients. Visit the websites of your providers and check to see what kind of relief and financial considerations they’re offering their consumers at this time. Be honest about what you can and cannot pay for at this time.
Unsecured debt includes credit cards, personal loans and any other loan that is not tied to a large asset, like a house or vehicle. Here, too, consumers are advised to communicate with their lenders about their current financial realities. Credit card companies and lenders are often willing to extend payment deadlines, lower the APR on a line of credit or a loan, waive a late fee or occasionally allow consumers to skip a payment without penalty.
Managing your expenses is more important now than ever before. For helpful tips, useful calculators, and interactive online coaches, visit the Learn section of www.NobleCU.com.
Noble Credit Union, voted one of the best credit unions in California, offers offer members full access to a wide range of financial services, including personal loans, online and mobile banking, new and used vehicle loans, and more. For more information about membership at Noble Credit Union, call (559) 252-5000 or visit NobleCU.com.