Are your savings being impacted by the pandemic? The financial impact of the pandemic coupled with anxieties about staying healthy is weighing on all of us. While we are practicing social distancing, we need to get closer than ever to our financial health and make sure we are prepared for all “what if” scenarios. Here are five tips to stay on top of your finances:
Know your options. If you are having trouble paying your mortgage or credit cards, reach out to your loan servicer and let them know of your circumstances. If your loan is owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and your ability to pay your mortgage is affected, you may be eligible to temporarily delay making your monthly mortgage payments.
It is a good idea to contact your lender to explain your specific situation. Banks are encouraged by the OCC to work with customers who have been adversely affected by COVID-19. This might include allowing you to defer or skip payments without consequences, extend your loan terms, or restructure the loan.
Pay people with Venmo, PayPal, or Zelle. Housekeepers, nannies or even friends bringing you groceries can be reimbursed with Venmo, PayPal or Zelle instead of potentially contagious cash. You can always have your bank make a wire transfer, but you will need the account number, routing number, and SWIFT code of the recipient, as well as the address of the bank and wire transfers are more costly than the other three ways to make payment.
Know your banker. With some bank branches closed to customers, what can you do if you cannot go in person? This is a perfect example of why it’s a great idea to have a personal banker or a relationship with a small, local bank where you will get personal attention.
Beware of scammers. Scammers are rampant now and are trying to use the fear of the pandemic to get your personal information to gain access to your accounts. Never give your account numbers or Social Security number to anyone who calls or emails you stating that they have important information to help during this time. Remember that no government agency will ever contact you by email, phone or text to ask for your Social Security number, bank account number, credit card number, or any other personal information.
If you are unsure of the legitimacy of any email that comes from what you think is a trusted institution, call the number on the bank web site, a statement, or the back of your credit card.
It’s a great time to go paperless. If you haven’t already, it’s time to invest in a good shredder. Shred credit card statements, explanation of benefits from your health insurance companies, investment statements, trade confirmations, or anything with sensitive information such as account numbers or Social Security numbers.
Set up e-bills on your bank’s website, and as many reminder emails as you need for utilities, mortgages, rent and/or fees. Additionally, most country clubs, landscape companies, and other maintenance companies are happy to email bills to eliminate paper. Some companies prefer and are switching to emailing bills during this time.
In closing, the big take away is that there is help out there for the asking. Here’s to staying financially secure and safe.
Judy Heft, certified money coach, is the CEO/founder of Judith Heft & Associates LLC (judithheft.com), a financial concierge firm handling personal bookkeeping and bill pay for high net worth individuals. She is the author of “How to be Smart, Successful and Organized with Your Money.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.