Developing healthy financial habits isn’t easy, even in the best of times; when times are tough (like now), it can seem impossible. But if you’re facing a financial challenge, such as the loss of a job or some other interruption in your income, there are some best practices that can help you get through it.
Here are our tips for getting fiscally fit while in “crisis mode:"Page Anchor: https://www.bancfirst.tv/fiscal-fitness-center/fiscal-fitness-in-crisis-mode/#liststart Page Anchor: https://www.bancfirst.tv/fiscal-fitness-center/fiscal-fitness-in-crisis-mode/#TipOne
1. Make sure you know where your money is going.
This might seem obvious, but it’s not unusual to have funds coming out of your account automatically, and to eventually lose track of what, when, and how much. When the money coming in is suddenly reduced, step one could be to get a handle on what’s going out.Page Anchor: https://www.bancfirst.tv/fiscal-fitness-center/fiscal-fitness-in-crisis-mode/#TipTwo
2. Cancel what you don’t need.
Most of us have subscribed for services that we liked, or thought we’d use, but didn’t really need. When money is tight, it’s important to differentiate between wants and needs, and to reduce unneeded spending. That includes canceling subscriptions, switching to free versions (even if it means watching a few ads), and putting memberships on hold. If it’s not essential, it doesn’t get any more of your money, at least not now.Page Anchor: https://www.bancfirst.tv/fiscal-fitness-center/fiscal-fitness-in-crisis-mode/#TipThree
3. Switch to manual mode.
We’re usually in favor of setting up automatic drafts or debit card transactions for monthly bills, but when money is tight, it might be better to make those payments on your schedule, not theirs. This isn’t about not paying, or incurring late charges. It’s just a good idea to be in control of when funds leave your account, especially if you’re unsure of when you’ll get more.
Bonus tip: Use our online or mobile Bill Pay for automated payments you still control.
4. Ask for discounts.
Now that you’re down to the things you actually need, try contacting the people you pay to see if you can pay less. Your phone or internet provider might have a less-expensive plan they could switch you to; your insurance agent might be able to reduce your premium (especially if you’re driving less); even your landlord might be able to cut you a break. Don’t assume they won’t help – it’s in their best interests for you to remain solvent.
5. Collect what you’re owed.
This one isn’t about tracking down your old roommate who still owes you for rent (although that’s not a bad idea); it’s about, of all things, taxes. If it’s filing time, and you might be due a refund, don’t wait until the deadline. File now, and stop letting the government hold on to your money! (This same principle could be applied to things you’ve bought and need to return, rebates you’ve never filed for, reservations you’ve put deposits on … now’s the time to deal with those things.)
Bonus tip: Have your refund deposited into your BancFirst account – it’s faster and more secure!
6. Contact your creditors.
We know it might be scary or intimidating to approach a lender you owe money to at a time like this, but it’s important. Having an honest and open dialog now, before you fall behind, is a much better way to go. There’s even a chance that your creditors will have a deferral program, letting you delay payments without incurring late charges or hurting your credit.
7. Set up a budget.
This might seem off – how can you create a budget when the income side of the equation is at zero? We’d argue that there’s never a bad time to set up a budget, and doing one now might instill a discipline that would be lacking if you had lots of cash flowing in. When times get better you can always adjust – though we think sticking to the “needs not wants” principle has merit even then!
Bonus tip: Our online and mobile Money Management feature is a great tool for setting up and managing a budget.
8. Think long term (this too shall pass).
If we’d started with this one, some of the rest of these tips might not have been necessary, because they’re really all saying the same thing. The crisis you’re in is NOT the end of your story; it’s just one chapter along the way. So, DON’T do anything now that will make it harder than it has to be to get moving again when the time comes. Taking out high-interest loans, running up unmanageable credit card balances, or just not paying your bills might be expedient, but they will have long-term consequences.
We’re sure there are things we’ve missed, but we hope you find these tips helpful as you manage your way through your difficult time. Setbacks aren’t fun, but by making smart choices, you’ll improve your chances of coming out of this stronger – more fiscally fit – than ever before. And remember, if you need help or have questions, you can always give us a call – “Loyal to You” means we’re here to help!