Financial emergencies can happen to any person for any reason at ANY time. Sometimes you know they may be coming, like if there are a lot of lay-offs in your industry or if the economy has taken a turn. And sometimes these financial emergencies are out of the blue completely. Obviously, right now we are going through the Coronavirus crisis, and it’s affecting millions of people financially on a global economic level. But at other times there are standard job layoffs, deaths, injuries, or even long-term illnesses to overcome. Whatever caused the crisis, the steps you need to take to keep yourself above water financially are the exact same. I’ve compiled a list of the 9 calls to make immediately during a personal financial emergency to help you navigate your personal money crisis.
What’s The Plan?
When you are in a financial emergency, it isn’t the time for pride. You need a plan, and you need one FAST. There are some calls you need to make IMMEDIATELY to make sure you can keep your finances in order. You can take a day or two and figure out where you are financially and what you are going to need help with, along with what you can and cannot afford. However, after that, you need to call and get some help as soon as possible. Even if you have an emergency fund, you will want to sustain that as long as possible. Use this guide for the “9 Calls to Make Immediately During a Personal Financial Emergency” and make th
During these calls, make sure you document everything. Keep good notes on who you spoke to, what day you called and any agreements you make. I’ve compiled a FREE checklist for you to keep track of your calls. See the sign-up box below to get it emailed to you, free of charge.
Call #1: Mortgage Company
First of all, your mortgage is likely your largest monthly expense. And it’s one of the most important ones! You don’t want to be late on your mortgage, that will really knock your credit score down in a hurry.
But what happens when you are in a financial emergency? Your
Call Your Lender
Call your lender and speak to them. You’ll be surprised at all the things they can do to help you during a crisis. It is certainly in their best interest to work with you, and it’s definitely in your best interest to be honest with them. The lender has seen it all and heard it all, and they understand that life happens. They have accommodations to help people in a financial crisis.
Often, if you are in a shorter-term crisis, there are ways to reduce your mortgage payments that your lender can offer you immediately. When you call, be honest about your situation. Let them know when you expect to be able to remedy your situation. For example, if you are injured, tell them the timeline for your recovery and when you expect to be back to work. Or if you’ve been laid off, let them know your prospects for your job search. Be honest and they can work with you.
Some mortgage companies can offer a forbearance, where they can literally “push pause” for a month or two on your mortgage payment when you are in a time of crisis. Of course, you’ll still accrue interest and it’ll add a few months to your repayment schedule. That’s to be expected. But that’s a small price to pay for immediate relief and help with your mortgage.
Some companies will let you “skip” your payments for a month or two, then increase your payments for the following months to get you caught up to date on the mortgage. During this time they will keep your account marked as “current” the entire time so that you don’t hurt your credit score. This will depend on if your finances would allow you to repay the higher mortgage amount later.
As an example, let’s say your mortgage payment is $1,000 a month, or $12,000 per year. The mortgage company might be able to let you skip 2 months of payments and then the next 10 payments would be $1,200 to get you caught up
In addition to the easy options the mortgage company can offer you, you can also apply for a mortgage loan modification as a last resort. This is for people that probably wouldn’t qualify to refinance their mortgage due to income loss or a large change in financial status. Mortgage modification is a long process that will take work and diligence from you, but it’s completely worth it if it means keeping your home and getting your finances back on track. This would definitely be further down the list of last resorts than a forbearance or Installment agreement. But it’s an option, nonetheless.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
The main thing to remember is to communicate, communicate, communicate. Call your lender and talk to a person. Don’t chat with
Call YOUR mortgage company and ONLY your mortgage company. DO NOT call some company that’s offering to do the bidding and work for you. Chances are that’s a scam. Your mortgage company has people that can help. Don’t attempt to go an easier route.
Call #2: Credit Card Companies
Credit card payments are also super important during a time of financial crisis. If you find yourself in a financial emergency and you can’t make your minimum payments on your credit cards, you need to call your credit card company (or multiple companies!) immediately and see how they can help you.
Know Your Limits
Get all your information in front of you, and have an idea of what you can afford before you call, so that you will know what is doable and what is out of the question when the credit card folks start offering options to you.
Even though credit card companies can get a bad reputation sometimes, most, if not all of them will help you. It’s in their best interest to work with you and keep you as a paying customer rather than having to take you to court for the money you owe.
Be honest about your problem, tell them what you think the timeline might be for a fix for your problem, ask them to help you and see what they say. Sometimes they can waive late fees, especially if you’ve been a great customer. Chances are, they can lower your rate, or at the least, negotiate a special payment amount for a certain amount of time to help you.
If you’ve already let it get out of hand and the companies are calling you, don’t dodge their calls. Talk to them and be honest. They will help you. But they can’t help if you don’t speak to them.
Call #3: Personal Loans, Car Loans or Home Equity Loans
If you have a personal, car or home equity loan with your bank or credit union, call them as soon as you think you have a financial issue. Just the same as the credit card companies and the mortgage company, it’s in the bank’s best interest to work with you. Let them know what you can do, what your plan Is to remedy this situation is and see how they can help. They may even have a special program or loan that can help you. But you don’t know until you ASK.
Call #4: Student Loans
We are moving down our list of “9 Calls to Make Immediately During a Personal Financial Emergency!” Next up, student loans! Now, you will likely get a LOT of help from your student loan provider. There’s some good news, right? Call them up and find out the different ways they can help. Depending on your previous payment history, they can usually they can give you lots of suggestions.
Usually, you can have up to 3 years of deferment on your federal student loans. Generally, this also pauses your interest accrual too. It doesn’t affect your credit score negatively at all. And usually, you can do the deferment in 6-month chunks of time during the life of the loan.
So, for example, you could use a deferment for 6 months during a hard time and if your situation improves, you can then start making your payments again. And you’d have another 30 months available still if your situation changed again and you needed help later on during the life of your loan.
Your student loan provider is definitely an easy call to make and they usually have several options to help you in your time of need. Don’t hesitate and don’t miss your payments. Just call.
Call #5: Gym Memberships
Gym expenses might be an easy cut if you find yourself in a financial emergency. Call your
Call #6: Insurance
It’s a good idea to call your insurance carriers and see if you can do better on your rates. You may be able to get a better plan, or even trade up for a higher deductible and lower monthly rate. Give each provider a call and see what can be done.
Home Insurance Rates
Usually, your homeowner’s insurance is lumped into your home escrow account and is a portion of your mortgage payment each month. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a change to your policy and lower that portion of your payment a little bit. Give the insurance company a call, explain your situation and see what they can do to help.
Call your insurance company and tell them you need to shop your car insurance rates. There may be a better rate available due to your good driving record or perhaps even for your loyalty and longevity with the insurance company. You may also want to call several other companies for quotes. If you find a better quote, your current insurance company may match it. Another option may be to increase your deductible to lower your monthly rate. These are all things to bring up with your current carrier.
Much the same as the car insurance, give your provider a call and see what kind of rate changes you might be eligible for. You might be able to raise your deductible and save some money on your monthly premiums if necessary. I’d only suggest doing this if you have an excellent health record and no small kids. Small kids go to the doctor a lot in my experience!
WARNING, WARNING, WARNING – READ THIS:
If you increase your deductible for either car, home or health insurance, make GOOD AND DAMN SURE you have the higher deductible saved up and in an emergency fund if you need it. Don’t make yourself have a $1,000 deductible if you don’t have a $1,000 somewhere in case you were in an accident. Accidents happen all the time
Call #7: Medical Bills
If you have medical bills that are due, call and ask for a payment plan instead of paying them in full at the time they are due. Know what you can afford before you
Or perhaps you already have medical bills that you have set on a payment plan and the monthly amount due is now out of reach. If that’s the case, just call the billing company listed on your bill (often not the doctor’s office), be honest, and see if you can pay a lower amount for the next few months until you can resolve your issue, and then resume your higher payment at a later date.
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Call #8: The Cable Company
Call and immediately cut off your cable. This is an expense you can do without TODAY. Just make sure your internet is unlimited data and get a few services that stream (that you probably already have anyway…). Get some Disney + and Netflix and you are ready to roll. Honestly, that’s more content than you could ever consume and it’s way more than you need. And now you are saving yourself a ton of money each month not having cable. You can watch almost all the main channels and news online these days. Or get a digital antenna for $30 and be able to tune in on your tv like the old days!
Call #9: Cell Phone Provider
When you see money trouble on your horizon, call the cell phone company and speak to the billing department. They may have a different data plan or an option to lower your payments for a few months. Perhaps by renewing your contract
Quick Relief Options:
Beyond these “9 Calls to Make Immediately During a Personal Financial Emergency,” there are a few quick relief options if you are in a financial emergency. If you need some quick tips on how to slash your spending amazingly quickly, try this article on “How to Save $615 This Month Without Even Noticing.“
If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you should be eligible for unemployment benefits. Each state runs its own program. I’ve included a link from the national website so you can find your state here on this list.
Unemployment benefits won’t be the same amount of money you were making, but it’s better than no money at all. Usually, it’s less than half your usual paycheck. But again, it’s money coming in.
You must apply and get approved, and then usually you have to show them each week/month that you are actively looking for a job. Generally, unemployment benefits last less than a year’s time. It takes a while to get these benefits going, so do this sooner rather than later.
Local Banks and Credit Unions
If you happen to be living in a national financial crisis, chances are local banks and credit unions will have loans and programs to help you. Lots of places will do a 6-month, interest-free loan to help you get on your feet again. Go into your local branch where you bank and find out more details. Even if it’s not a national crisis, the local banks and credit unions have a lot of programs that may be able to help you.
Do your taxes
If it’s tax season, and you are getting money back on your taxes, get them done and submitted! Get your refund on the way!
Comp Time/Vacation Time
Do you have any comp time or vacation time you can cash in at work for extra money? Lots of places have vacation buy back policies where they will buy back a week or two of your vacation time if you aren’t going to use it as a benefit to you. Or if you have a lot of comp time stored up, ask for it to be repaid, if that’s in your company’s policies.
Sometimes employers will offer a loan against your 401-K funds. Talk to your Human Resources department to see if there is any kind of employment assistance program. Don’t just go taking money out of your 401-K for funds without speaking to an expert. This can cause a HUGE tax penalty for you. Make sure you speak to your fund administrator before doing anything with your 401-K account.
Wrap Up – 9 Calls to Make Immediately During a Personal Financial Emergency
Financial emergencies can happen to anyone. There is no reason for shame and embarrassment. At one point or another, most of us will go through a financial crisis. The smart thing to do is keep your head on straight, trouble-shoot your issues and communicate with your lenders. Use this guide for the 9 calls to make immediately during a personal financial emergency as you make your plan and your calls. I think y
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