The coronavirus pandemic and the resulting lockdown has negatively affected the financial situations of many people, particularly those who were already in debt. Debt payment plans on mortgages or credit cards that you set up when you had a steady income may be unmanageable now that you’ve been laid off or your work situation has changed in some way.
Coping with debt and avoiding bankruptcy could be your main concern during the lockdown. Thankfully, there are strategies you can use to manage, reduce, or prolong your debt payments during the quarantine.
- Know your loans
If you have loan payments, your provider may be able to give you valuable information to help you change your plan or to learn information that could ease your situation. For instance, interest and payment schedules on student loans are on hold right now.
If you are working on very low income right now or out of a job altogether, you can renegotiate a plan that’s a lighter financial load. If you’re still in school, there are also far fewer restrictions and withholdings related to income for new loan applications.
Your lender, whether it’s a bank or the federal government, may work with you during this time to renegotiate your payment schedule. There may be provisions already in place for you to have easier loan schedules. It pays to check with your loan lender to know your options.
- Make a schedule
No matter how you are treated by your lender, you need to keep track of what you owe. Credit scores are going to take a hit during the lockdown because of people’s inability to pay off their debt.
This means that if you’re pressed for funds, you shouldn’t be making generous payments on one loan and ignoring another. You should be working out the minimum payments on everything in order to keep your credit score afloat.
Savvy moneymakers often plan to reduce their debt each month and make their schedule accordingly.
However, there may be more important things to worry about right now than getting out from under a loan.
- Spend wisely
Many of us received a $1,200 stimulus check for the lockdown situation. A lot of those who did probably rushed out to get the new Animal Crossing game, but you should consider the best possible use for this money.
You should think of this money as a resource to get your bills in better shape and keep your credit score above water, not play money.
- Keep a budget
Budgeting is good advice even without a pandemic to worry about. However, it’s even more important to keep a stable savings account during the lockdown because you need to stay ahead of your debt and prepare for the worst.
With no job and the possibility of getting sick, you need to cut extra expenditures so you have a little extra for a rainy day.
- Refinance for the future
You may be just trying to scrape by right now, not even considering that refinancing your house could be an advantage. However, a savvy investment decision right now could be a huge benefit to your situation.
Mortgage rates are at record lows right now in order to try and get money flowing as per usual. If you plan on moving after the crisis has passed, refinancing doesn’t make sense. However, if you plan on living in your home for a long time, it could be a financial boon for you for years to come that you financed during a period of such low rates.
Closings are a problem right now because people are scared to leave their homes even to see their attorneys. However, many lawyers are providing people opportunities to do so safely, such as allowing them to remain in their car while documents are signed or even using facetime on computers to give remote notarization (they’re called “eClosings”).
Regardless, you should consider it as an option that could get you a loan with a better rate.
Debt consolidation may not be the first thing on your mind if your family is out of toilet paper. However, those who are out of a job or working at a greatly reduced income should take steps to manage their debt.
This includes contacting your lender to figure out your options, using wise saving and spending tactics, and even considering refinancing if the terms are right.
The pandemic is changing standards of saving and investment. Many lenders know this and are willing to help you manage your debt. It just takes a little communication and planning on your part to learn your options.