If you’re taking a closer look at your finances, you’re not alone. Like many Americans, there’s a good chance you or someone you know may be trying to make a smaller budget stretch further.
While that’s certainly hard, know that there are a variety of programs available to help you feel more confident about your personal finances. Navy Federal Credit Union leaders are specially positioned to offer their best tips to stay on top of bills and avoid missed payments. Here’s what they had to say.
- Talk to your financial institution. Dani Hoffmann— AVP of collection systems, projects and vendor management at Navy Federal—says this should be your first step. "We're here for our members 24/7 and their financial well-being is top of mind for us," says Hoffmann. "It's common for members to avoid our calls because they feel embarrassed or hopeless. When we do make contact, our members often say, ‘I wish I had talked to you sooner.’ We simply need to talk to you to understand your unique financial situation and to match you with the best option for help. So, before you miss a payment, contact us."
- Focus on the debt you have. It’s important to prioritize paying down the debt you already have before spending on other goals. Booking a trip may sound like something to look forward to, but straining your bank account may put you one step closer to falling behind with the credit card companies or on your car payment. "If you can afford to pay your bills in full, you should. The best way to stay on top of payments is to put bills ahead of other expenses," says Anne Marie Ferdinando, member outreach manager at Navy Federal. “Don’t get caught up in the idea that you can delay payments right now just because the option might be available. If there is money left over, then add it to a rainy-day fund or earmark it for a trip you’re planning."
- Prioritize your payments. While life-and-death needs such as avoiding eviction must come first, set priorities for paying bills. If you have multiple credit card bills, Justin Zeidman, manager of credit card products, suggests you focus on paying down your higher-interest credit card debt first. "After setting your budget, consider using any leftover funds towards a larger payment on your credit card with the highest interest rate. Paying down high-interest balances first will save you more in the long run," says Justin. "Making at least your minimum payment each cycle is key to remaining current on your accounts and protecting your credit score, but focusing your repayment plan on your highest-interest balances will help you save money as you pay down your debts," he adds.
- Take a deep breath. During a time when it may feel like things change every day, know that it's going to be OK. Even though times are hard right now, there are debt management options to lessen the burden. Reach out and rethink your finances.
And, as Dani Hoffmann said, "When in doubt, contact us, and we'll help you figure out the next step in your financial journey."
This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.