If you’re worried about paying your bills during this time, call our partners at GreenPath and talk with one of their financial experts. GreenPath is a complimentary service for SESLOC members — providing access to debt management services, and free one-on-one financial counseling and financial education tools.
GreenPath financial counselors can help by creating a plan and talking with your creditors to find out if they have any options to help you. Some creditors may be able to extend your due date, waive late fees or offer a different payment plan option. Take a few moments to prepare before you call so you can clearly communicate your needs.
From managing unexpected interruptions in income to prioritizing monthly expenses, GreenPath Financial Wellness has been listening and learning as they speak with people facing financial hardships.
Check out what they’ve recently heard, taken from direct conversations with people who, like all of us, are moving through ever-changing times:
1. Prioritize Your Bills
“When the crisis hit, I was glad I knew how to pay attention to the most important bills. Obviously rent and groceries were our priority. With the car payment, I got on the phone and talked to our lender, but it was good that we knew how to focus on the most important bills first.”
“I am glad my husband and I knew what has to be paid now, what bills could wait. It gives us some hope that we will get through this.”
Getting the most important bills paid first is the most important thing in a time of crisis. Read more about which bills to pay during the pandemic.
2. Build Up an Emergency Fund, No Matter How Big or Small
“We had a savings account buffer, which wasn’t that big and which we used quickly. But I was glad we could pull from it. Now that things have evened out a little, my husband and I are building back up that small buffer. Not too sure how long it will take, but we’ve started saving back up as much as we can.”
“There was some money I had set aside for a home project, but was able to tap into for monthly rent. I was grateful to be able to use it, but still anxious if our job situations change.”
No matter how big or small, a “rainy day” fund is the best protection. You can read more about the wisdom of preparing for an emergency.
3. Start a Budget
“We know how to budget since we went through a Debt Management Plan with GreenPath a few years back. When it all hit, we knew what we needed to do. I was glad to have the tools to make a budget and stick to it.”
“If there ever was a good time to use the tools we were taught before about budgeting, this is it”
“Since nobody is going anywhere, our bills for gas are down. We used to budget $75 to $100 every week for gas, now it’s down to about $11 a week since we’re not driving, and the gas prices have dropped. We can use this for other budget items.”
Setting a household budget doesn’t have to be complicated. Many people find they reduce financial stress by creating and following a simple budget. Read more on how to get started.
4. Plan for Grocery Expenses
“Even though we are buying more on food at the grocery store than before the virus, at the end of the day we are actually doing better about food bills. Since I don’t want to head out to the store more than once every other week or so, I am making a shopping list and sticking to it.”
“Before the stay-at-home orders, I would go to the grocery store three times a week because I didn’t plan and would forget what it was I had to buy. I could spend $200 on one trip without a thought as to meals. Now I go to the grocery store once every three weeks, and what I buy stretches over several meals because I don’t want to keep going back.”
There’s nothing like a crisis to help us stick to our grocery lists! Learn more here.
5. Make it a Family Affair
“My daughter is back home and able to help with the bills. That’s a big relief for me.”
“Our kids are more aware of expenses since all this hit. They see us doing things like cooking at home instead of going out for fast food. We’re having them pare back on what they are asking for like treats, for instance.”
Financial struggles are difficult on families. Take advantage of the learning opportunity. Make it a time to bring the family closer by working together. Learn more about helping kids deal with a financial crisis.
Prepared by GreenPath Financial Wellness, Copyright 2020.