Here are some financial tips to get you through troubled times.
Whether you’ve been laid off, have unexpected medical bills, or are suffering through any type of hard times, you can count on your personal finances being tested. Money dilemmas can cause major stress and even trigger physical symptoms of anxiety.
While these situations may feel overwhelming now, preparation is better than panic. And starting now is better than doing nothing.
Read on for tips from top money experts to help you navigate your finances during tough times.
Focus on facts not feelings.
“There will be a time later to address emotional issues. Now is not that time. For now, pack up your feelings and put them on a ‘shelf.’ Develop a mindset that you’ve been called in to perform a financial rescue for a complete stranger. Exactly what are the facts as you know them? … Follow this rule to figure out which bills should get paid first: Do not make payments on nonessential debts or expenses when you have not paid essential ones—even if your nonessential creditors are breathing down your neck.” — Mary Hunt, founder of DebtProofLIving.com
Budget is not a bad word.
A budget makes you aware of where money is going so you can adjust when needed. Create a budget using online templates or tools to help you track your spending. Using a budget worksheet or app can give you a framework and help you remember expenses that don’t happen every month, such as car maintenance. “Once all your monthly expenses are identified, go through each one and look for ways to cut your bills. You might be able to eliminate cable TV (or switch to a service like Netflix which costs less than $10 per month) and you might find that you no longer need your home telephone line.” — David Bakke, a financial columnist for MoneyCrashers.com
Once you know where your dollars are going, you may spot categories to trim. Finding ways to save money can also help you start or bulk up an emergency fund.
Guard your credit score.
You might find yourself putting more on your credit cards, especially if you don’t have an emergency fund or if most of your money is invested. It’s essential to pay on time if you possibly can — even if it means carrying a balance. Paying on time is the most important factor in your credit score.
Also, be aware that how much of your credit limits you actually use has a big effect on your score. If your credit score is good, you could prepare by asking for higher credit limits or applying for a 0% introductory rate credit card. (An exception: Avoid new credit applications if you are about to finance or refinance a large purchase, like a home or car.)
It pays to safeguard your score because having access to credit, at a reasonable interest rate, can help you navigate through rough patches.
Contact your creditors.
“One of the first things I would recommend is to contact creditors: Mortgage lenders, car lenders, I would contact even credit card companies and literally just spill the beans. Let your creditors know that you are experiencing a financial hardship. In a lot of cases, they are willing to work with you by suspending payments or doing some kind of forbearance. Debt payments are usually what stress us out the most, so that’s where you should start.” — Laura Adams, author of “Money Girl’s Smart Moves to Grow Rich” and host of the Money Girl podcast
Coca-Cola Credit Union is pleased to offer relief options for members who may be experiencing financial hardship.
Relief Loan: Get relief from high rate bills and take care of unexpected expenses with a Relief Loan from Coca-Cola Credit Union. For a limited time, we are offering a personal loan of $1,500 for 18 months at 8% APR* with no payment for the first 60 days.
Relief Deferment: With a Relief Deferment** from Coca-Cola Credit Union, you can take up to 60 days off from making loan payments to eligible loans (with no fees), and free up some cash to pay bills or cover unexpected expenses.
Cut your insurance costs.
“Do an insurance audit and see if you can cut your premiums. It’s easy to just pay your insurance bills without giving it a thought. But in some cases, you’ll find you have coverage you no longer need. Or you might discover that you qualify for a discount that you haven’t taken. If you have a teenage driver in the household, there are a variety of ways to save money. For instance, there are discounts for good grades. Talk to your insurance agent and ask for help to reduce your premiums. This can increase your monthly cash flow.” — Beverly Harzog, credit expert and author of “The Debt Escape Plan”
Know what to pay first if you can’t cover everything.
After working with creditors to make financial arrangements where you can, be strategic about paying bills when you can’t pay them all.
If something has got to give, look at survival first. You need to cover food, utilities, shelter and work-related expenses, such as transportation, cell phone and childcare. Anything else may have to go unpaid.
Skipping some payments will damage your credit, but you can rebuild later when the crisis is over.
Relief Loan. *APR=Annual Percentage Rate. Subject to credit approval. Rates and terms may vary depending on individual credit history and underwriting factors; market conditions or other business factors; all loan programs, rates, terms, and conditions subject to change at any time without notice. Ask a Member Service Representative for details.
Relief Deferment. *Maximum of two (2) month deferment available for all loans except Credit Cards, Mortgage Loans and Lines of Credit. Deferral/ Skip a Pay cannot be used for first loan payment. Months deferred may be consecutive. Processing fee will be waived. All terms and conditions of your loan remain the same; interest will continue to accumulate during the month(s) you skip and your loan maturity will be extended when payment is deferred. Additional restrictions apply. Speak with a Member Service Representative for details.
For more information or for assistance with any of these offerings, email or call 404.676.2586.