Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans are actually out of work. If this is your case, here are 4 strategies that will help you pay your bills and get a grip financially.
Bill calendars and notifications
The first step to staying on top of your bills during tough financial times is knowing which bills are due and when they need to be paid. A bill calendar will help with this.
This traditional method that our parents used, writing down bills on the calendar in the kitchen, is still effective, but there are also digital ways of doing it. A physical calendar may still be the best option for you if you are not a fan of electronic devices, but, if you manage apps and online banking, you now can receive reminders and bill notifications on your cellphone or email, when a due date is approaching. This can make the job a lot easier.
Once you know what’s due for the month, you can figure out how to best pay your bills, prioritizing your essential expenses like rent or mortgage, food, or health care, for example.
After you’ve paid these bills, you can see what else you can afford to pay for the month.
When you are tight on money, it’s important to know where your money goes, and an expense tracker can help you. Understanding how you’re spending money will help you see what expenses you can reduce.
There are different tools you can use to do this. A spreadsheet or budgeting worksheet is one option; an expense tracking app is another. You can also track spending by logging into your bank account and monitoring your daily and weekly activity.
When you can’t pay bills because you aren’t working, cutting out the non-essentials is your top priority. Expenses like name-brand products, new clothes or electronics and subscription services you don’t use, are a good place to start at.
Debt tracking and repayment tools
Falling behind on bills with debt payments can hurt your credit score. So, if you’re prioritizing basic expenses over debt repayment, there are a few tools you can use to stay on top of what you owe.
First, you can use a debt tracker to record each debt you have, how much you owe, the minimum payment due and the interest rate.
There are also tools you can use to make your debt less of a budget burden, which include:
• Credit card hardship programs
• Debt consolidation programs
• Student loan deferment or forbearance programs
• Mortgage forbearance and/or loan modification if you own a home
• Loan refinancing
During the coronavirus outbreak, the federal government has offered a number of options to provide financial relief for people who are struggling to pay bills. You may want to look into them and see if you qualify for any.
Ways of increasing income
If you can’t pay bills due to lost income, there are steps you can take to replace your earnings. To start with, you may be able to apply for unemployment benefits if you were laid off from your job.
In response to COVID-19, the federal government approved emergency unemployment assistance benefits to eligible freelancers and regular workers.
Even though these assistant benefits will help your situation, they may not be enough. So, getting an on-the-side job can be your best option. There are many things you can do these days, online, which require minimum skills.