May 13, 2020
Tagged As: Personal
Nearly 20.5 million people filed for unemployment claims in the U.S. in April, in the worst month for job losses since the Great Depression. If you’ve found yourself out of a job or have had your hours reduced to the impact of COVID-19, there are a few things you can do right away to make your finances more secure.
Track Your Spending, and Create a Budget
It’s always a good idea to follow a budget. But it’s especially important when you don’t have a steady income. There are plenty of budgeting and money-tracking tools out there, including Manage My Finances within Hills Bank Online.
Consider Using Credit Cards, but Be Careful
Credit cards can be a lifeline for those who lose their jobs or other sources of income, allowing them to pay for the essentials without having to cough up cash on the spot. And while it is good to build up credit by using a credit card, be sure you aren’t accumulating more debt than you can afford to pay. Many Americans have found themselves in dire financial straits because they relied too heavily on credit cards for their finances. With changes to the credit score formula coming later this year, you shouldn’t make a habit of late payments – as you could take a larger hit to your credit score.
If you are unable to completely pay off the balance each month, pay as much as you can over the minimum payment and don’t charge anything else so you don’t fall further behind and face snowballing interest charges that you’ll be responsible for paying back.
Explore Financial Relief Options
A number of utility companies, loan servicers, and other creditors are offering forbearance (a temporary postponement of loan payments) during these times. But be sure to read the fine print. If you will be accruing interest over the forbearance period, you may end up paying more for your loans or services when the time comes to pay them back.
We are also offering relief options for our customers who have been affected by COVID-19.
Don’t Be Afraid to Dip Into Savings
Many people don’t have the luxury of a savings account. If you do, or have otherwise set aside some money for a rainy day, you shouldn’t hesitate to use it to pay bills and cover other necessary expenses. It can feel like defeat to use your “emergency fund,” but it’s better to have the peace of mind knowing you can get through this period of joblessness without needing to rack up credit card bills, take out a loan, or rely on help from your friends and family. And on that note:
It’s Ok to Ask for Help
You’re not alone in these difficult times. Asking for financial assistance from the people in your life is nothing to be ashamed of. You can also reach out to us for assistance. We offer personal loans and lines of credit that you can take advantage of to help you through this period.
Set Up Account Alerts
Staying on top of your financials is especially important right now. With Hills Alerts, you’ll be notified by text or email when you receive a direct deposit, when deposited funds are available, if your account balance becomes negative, and more.
Build an Emergency Fund
When the time is right, you’ll want to establish an emergency fund in case you’re ever in a precarious financial situation again. We can help you do that with Goals. This new feature – coming soon to Hills Bank Online – lets you set savings targets and automatically set money aside for a special purpose. You’ll see a visual reminder of your savings each time you log in. Take the effort out of saving with regular, automatic transfers that are calculated to your timeline, and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with building an emergency fund for times like these.
Get in Touch With a Banker
If you have questions, need advice, or seek to resolve an issue, you can always reach out directly to one of our bankers through the HERE by Hills Bank app. In troubled times, it can be a relief to know a personal finance expert is only a few taps away – so download the HERE app today!