Personal Finance Rules You Can Give Yourself Some Grace With During This Pandemic
There are certain personal finance rules you want to stay away from breaking. With that being said, during these uncertain times, most people are feeling very vulnerable when it comes to their finances. According to a survey from MagnifyMoney, about 30% of people have had to dip into their retirement savings. When society is faced with financially challenging times, typical personal finance rules tend to be put aside.
Here are six personal finances rules you can break during this pandemic
1. Do not pay the bills late
Companies know how much Americans are suffering financially right now. Under normal circumstances, you never want to make late payments or skip any payments altogether. That spells disaster for your credit score. In an unusual situation like now, it is not only acceptable but advisable. Furthermore, many companies are willing to help out by offering hardship programs.
Take the time to get in touch with each of your service providers and lenders to see about negotiating a payment plan. Credit card companies, auto loans, some mortgage companies etc., are deferring payments. What you will typically see is a waiving of any late fees but you should make sure to find out how the interest portion will be handled.
2. Always max out your retirement contributions
With many people not saving enough for retirement, maxing out your retirement contributions is something you should always be doing. With that being said, that money will be put to better use during this time. It is advisable to stop the contributions or at the very least reduce them. This of course only applies if you are suffering financially. The money should then be put into an emergency fund.
3. Don’t go crazy with your available credit
Your credit utilization rate represents the amount of debt you are carrying compared to the amount of credit you have available. Under normal circumstances, you want to keep that percentage below 30%. This helps ensure that you qualify for favorable terms and low interest rates. Unfortunately, many people are having to turn to credit to stay afloat. Yes this may hurt your credit score a little in the interim, but your credit score can always be increased. When things are back to normal, you can work on boosting your credit score back up by repaying what you owe with timely payments.
4. Pay more than the minimum
When you have debt, only paying the minimum may just cover the interest. Of course this is not a way to pay down your debt. Right now, many people can’t afford to double their payment. A smart move may be to transfer your balance to a no interest or low interest credit card. If you have good credit, you can get approved for a 0% interest credit card for anywhere from 12 to 21 months. Furthermore, some cards offer sign on bonuses if you spend a certain amount within the first few months. That credit can be applied to your balance, which will help lower your debt and keep interest fees at bay.
5. Pay off your student loans asap
With most students graduating with student loan debt, paying it down as soon as you can would be the normal approach to take. As of right now, under President Donald Trump’s executive orders, all federal student loan payments (not private student loans) will be deferred and interest will be waived. This will hold until Dec. 31, 2020. If your income is still intact, take this as an opportunity to chip away at your balance.
6. Stick to using cash
When using credit, people tend to spend more money than if they are paying with cash. So cash is the preferred method of payment if you can swing it. During this pandemic, using plastic and digital payment methods are advised. Just watch out for mindless shopping during this time of quarantine.