Money

Money Triage – 5 Days of Financial Focus

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Piggy bank with mask

 

Dear friends,

I can’t even begin to sum up the events we’ve all lived through in the past few weeks as Coronavirus / COVID-19 has become a part of our daily lives.

In addition to concerns about our world, our loved ones and our health (not to mention a run on toilet paper), for many of us this has suddenly become a time of great financial uncertainty.

If you are worried about money and finances, I hear you. For the next 5 days, we’ll develop strategies and emergency plans to deal with this unexpected crisis.

Many aspects of this pandemic are out of our control, but we can control how we respond with our money. Let’s dig in.

The Power of Now

 

Call lenders now

 

There is no better time than today to begin making plans and provisions. Let’s get clear about exactly where we are right now financially, so we can start dealing with things.

The first step is to develop a 30-day plan to tackle short-term expenses. Here’s how:

1. In chronological order of due date, make a list of expenses and bills that are due in the next 30 days.

2. Look at each bill and see if you can reduce, renegotiate or eliminate the expense. See below for specific strategies.

3. Pick up the phone and start having conversations with lenders so that expectations are clear on both sides.

4. Apply for any needed financial or government assistance now.

Reducing Bills

Now is the time to trim monthly expenses as much as possible. Here are 19 Ways to Reduce Monthly Expenses.

Interest rates have dropped, so you may want to see if this is an advantageous time to refinance your mortgage. NerdWallet’s free Refinance Calculator makes it easy to run the numbers.

Perhaps you can switch to a lower pricing tier on cell phone service or switch to the lower-priced commercial version of your streaming entertainment service.

Renegotiating Bills

If needed, call now and make payment arrangements for credit card balances, medical expenses and loan payments. Some of the things you can ask for are:

  • A lower monthly payment
  • A longer term
  • The option to skip a payment
  • An increased credit limit
  • Splitting one large annual bill into monthly payments
  • A lower interest rate
  • Waiving of late fees

If your credit card offers points or travel miles, see if they can be converted into a monetary credit applied to your outstanding balance. Also, ask if any annual card fees can be waived.

Some medical billers will offer a significant reduction in the amount due if you just call and ask; I reduced one invoice by 50% last week.

Eliminating Expenses

Immediately cancel any unneeded monthly subscription services like gym memberships. Request refunds in writing.

Seeking Help

Visit FindHelp.org to find food assistance, help paying bills, and other free or reduced cost programs.

RentAssistance.com lists available programs and resources by zip code.

If you need to apply for Unemployment assistance, file your claim today.

Many telecommunications and utility companies are offering concessions and free services during this crisis.

How About You?

How are you doing during this unprecedented time? Are you and your family staying healthy and sane? I’d love to hear from you.

When you have your 30-day plan done, I invite you to leave a comment below or over at the Money Diet Facebook Group. Also, we’d all love to hear any additional suggestions or strategies you have to share.

Tomorrow’s exercise is all about exploring resources and rekindling hope.

We’re in this together, and together we will get through this.

Stay safe and be well,

Signature for Eliza Cross

 

Grateful thanks to NordWood Themes on Unsplash for use of the telephone image above.

 

 

Eliza Cross is the author of 15 books, including recent titles like Bacon Beans and Beer and Small Bites. She blogs at ElizaCross.com and is the founder of the BENSA Bacon Lovers Society. Her articles have appeared in publications like Sunset, Parents and Writers' Digest. Eliza lives near Denver with her family.

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