Can’t pay your bills?


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Consumers provides banking services for more than 100,000 members. If you have banking questions, reach out.

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Strategies for prioritizing your bills to keep food on the table and a roof over your head.

If you’re having difficulty making ends meet right now, you’re not alone. Unemployment and underemployment are at record levels because of the pandemic. There are no easy answers but whatever you do, don’t ignore the bills coming—that will only make the situation worse. Here are some strategies to help you prioritize what to pay and keep food on the table.

Determine top priorities

Even if you already operate with a disciplined budget, you need to prioritize your bills.

You must have food and shelter. Make sure they get paid first. Anything that allows you to work should also get high priority, like transportation, child care and your cell phone.

If necessary, look to local food banks to help keep food on the table. (It’s difficult for many people to accept help like this. If that’s you, accept the nourishment you need now and make a commitment to repay it later when your finances improve.)

Also, take a look at obligations that will create bigger problems if they go unpaid. This includes child support, taxes and insurance.

If your income is cut or gone entirely, you may be able to petition the court for lower child support.

The IRS granted an extension to all taxpayers giving everyone until July 15 to pay 2019 income taxes. Make sure your taxes are paid by then to avoid racking up late fees and penalties.

If your home, car or health insurance lapses you won’t have coverage. Talk to your insurer about modifying your policy for less coverage or comparison shop for a new one. (Our local partner, Nulty Insurance, offers discounts to Consumers members.)

If you can’t pay the utilities

Utilities are necessities and should be high on your priority list. However, many utility providers will allow you to make lower payments and make up the difference later. Call each of your utilities and ask what kind of relief they offer for people who’ve lost their job or had their hours cut. 

If you can’t pay the rent

Notify your landlord in writing (email or letter) that your financial circumstances have changed. Follow up with a phone call. You may be able to work out a repayment plan for when you regain income.

After contacting your landlord, check out 211.org to see what kind of assistance may be available to you.

If you can’t pay the mortgage

Contact your lender and request forbearance. Forbearance is a formal agreement with your lender to temporarily pay a lower mortgage amount or pause making payments. You can’t get forbearance unless you request it. And, it can be exactly the temporary relief you need to avoid losing your home through foreclosure. Learn more about forbearance.

Managing other debt

Credit card, medical and student loan debt may be adding to the pressure you feel. Call your lenders and ask if they will work out a new repayment plan with lower payments.

Even if you hate carrying a balance on your credit card, it may be time to only make minimum payments so you can pay for your highest priorities. Consumers is offering skip a pay options on qualifying loans, including credit cards and waiving the fees to do so.

Ask for relief

Have you noticed a theme here? With anyone you owe money it’s best to contact them at the first signs of trouble. It can be hard to pick up the phone and make that call but you can’t get relief if you don’t ask for it. And right now, most companies are working hard to help people get through these tough times.

Since the coronavirus pandemic started, Consumers has helped hundreds of members with personal and home equity loans, refinancing, forbearance, and payment plans. Contact us to get answers to your banking and financial questions. We’re here to help—especially now.

Consumers provides banking services for more than 100,000 members. If you have banking questions, call us at 800-991-2221. We make it easy to bank how you want, when you want. During the coronavirus confinement, we’re available online, by phone and by appointment at select offices equipped to maximize safety.

Federally insured by NCUA

We're here for you

Consumers provides banking services for more than 100,000 members. If you have banking questions, reach out.

Contact us

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