Even in a financial crisis, you have options – Business – Crookston Times – Crookston, MN
The anxiety over the coronavirus pandemic and its financial fallout can seem crippling. But a quote often attributed to the great tennis player Arthur Ashe offers a way forward: “Start where you are.
The anxiety over the coronavirus pandemic and its financial fallout can seem crippling. But a quote often attributed to the great tennis player Arthur Ashe offers a way forward: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. ‘
If you’ve never set up an emergency fund to tap into during a crisis, now is not the time to blame yourself. Instead, check out the resources you have and learn how to deploy them as efficiently as possible.
Seek outside help
Lenders and credit card issuers are scrambling to set up programs to help people during the outbreak. Your auto lender, student lender, mortgage and credit card issuer may offer temporary concessions. Visit the website of the lender or card issuer or call to verify your options before paying.
Don’t be afraid to sign up for payout or forbearance programs. According to the two major credit rating companies, FICO and VantageScore, having such programs on your credit reports will not affect your credit scores.
You may be eligible for assistance with other bills. Check the websites of your service providers to find out what is available. Many electricity, telephone and Internet companies are also suspending disconnections. Check out the many resources on the 211.org website or simply call 211 to be connected.
If you lose your job or your income drops dramatically, check your state’s workforce agency website. In addition to traditional unemployment benefits, you can find programs to help you with temporary reduction in hours, information on paid sick leave and more. Also check your state’s website for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to see if you qualify for assistance with purchasing food.
Support efforts will evolve as the situation evolves, so check reputable websites and sources of information regularly.
List of loan credit sources
If staying afloat means spending money that you don’t have yet, so be it. Credit is a tool, and tools are needed for some jobs. It’s a.
Make a list of your credit cards, including current balances, credit limits, and APRs. Note the end date of any 0% introductory offer. Be sure to include cards that you don’t usually carry or use, and verify that they haven’t been closed for inactivity. Many personal finance websites offer a free credit report summary, which is an easy way to gather much of this information.
If your credit is good, it may be a good idea to request higher credit limits on your cards. Higher limits will lessen the impact of higher than usual balances on your credit score and strengthen your safety net.
If your credit isn’t that good, beware of payday loans and car titles. They may seem tempting but often lead to spirals of debt, and a title loan puts your transportation at risk. Explore alternatives like borrowing from family and friends, selling items you don’t need, or getting a payday advance from an employer. Even using a pawnshop is better than a payday loan or title because it does not jeopardize your credit score or lead to collections.
Use and pay credit cards strategically
If you need to carry balances, use the card (s) with the lowest interest rate first to minimize the interest you have to pay. Avoid Maximizing Any Card “Spread spending across multiple cards.
Knowing what is affecting your credit score will help limit the damage. Pay at least the minimum owed “and keep in mind that you may be facing tough times for a while. Don’t try to pay in full this month if it puts you in danger of paying next month. It is important to avoid missing a payment because spending 30 days or more past due can stay on your credit report for up to seven years.
While increasing credit card balances can also lower your credit score, it is easier to remedy this damage after the financial crisis is over. Your score will rebound once you reduce your balances.
A note: if you’ve had credit missteps that led to collections, don’t let a debt collector force you to prioritize that debt now. Preserve your funds to cover living expenses and manage collections later.
Protect against fraud
The Federal Trade Commission and other agencies have warned consumers to watch out for scammers who are exploiting the crisis. Beware of messages claiming to come from your creditors, your employer, or charities. Even by clicking on what you think is a list of safety precautions, you can install malware on your computer.
Do not respond directly to emails or phone calls; instead, use a number or email address that you know is correct, such as contact information on a creditor’s or charity’s website. If you’re looking for information on the coronavirus, go straight to reputable sites like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you have elderly friends or relatives, be aware that they can be targeted by scammers. Discussing possible scams can both educate them and ease the isolation that might lead them to engage with scammers.
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Bev O’Shea is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @BeverlyOShea.