Volatile times may leave you feeling unsettled and concerned about finances. You may be wondering how secure your job is or how you’ll make bill or loan payments on time, especially if you find yourself laid off or unemployed.
Greater Alliance knows that managing your finances is more essential than ever now, and we’re here to help. Read on for ways to save money on a tight budget. We also are offering a number of special member services and a loan relief program that can help ease worries amid the uncertainty.
Manage money to prioritize essentials.
If you have concerns about your finances during this time, first, examine what you’re spending. With the following budgeting tips in hand, make a plan for prioritizing expenses to stay above water.
- Identify needs versus wants. Needs are things like prescription medications, groceries and gas. Whereas, things like takeout and recurring subscriptions are wants. Decide what’s a need, then prioritize them. If there’s budget to spare, you can always add a “want” back in.
- Make minimum payments. Even during hard times, it’s important to chip away at debt. Don’t avoid paying bills. Make minimum payments on things like loans and credit cards. If you can’t, call those you owe money and ask for relief assistance.
- Look at behaviors you can modify. Even within your needs, you can trim costs with lifestyle changes. For example, be selective about which foods you’ll buy at a higher price point or walk and bike when you can instead of drive.
Proceed carefully with credit cards
If your emergency cash stash is looking low, credit cards are a viable option short-term—when used the right way. If you go this route, make sure you can pay the minimum amount due each month to keep your account current. This protects your credit and helps you keep a good relationship with lenders.
When times are hard, it can be tempting to pull back your investments or tap into your retirement. Don’t panic. If you’re not near retirement, stick with your long-term strategy and keep investing what you can.
If you are nearing retirement, or need to sell investments to meet other goals, plan ahead for withdrawals you’ll need to make. But remember, if you’re like most retirees and have half your investments in bonds, you will have a safe, steady income for years to come.
Ask for loan payment help
If you’re having trouble making payments on loans, don’t sit on them. Call your lender and ask about options for loan relief.
If you have student loans, you may qualify for reduce payments or deferment. Just be mindful that interest will continue to accrue. If you have other loans, you could qualify for loan relief. At Greater Alliance, we want to help. That’s why we’re offering a Temporary COVID-19 Relief Loan.
Greater Alliance loan qualifications
Those who have reduced income, documented by their employer, due to one of the following COVID-19 related issues can qualify for this quick-turnaround loan, disbursed electronically.
- COVID-19 illness
- Health monitoring
- Reduction in hours
- Missed pay to care for a family member
- No payment for 90 days*
- Rate as low as 6.99% APR** for 24 months
- No prepayment penalty
- Loan amounts up to $2,500
Consider loan consolidation
Your financial institution may also offer loan consolidation to help lower monthly payments and make managing your finances easier.
At Greater Alliance, our members can apply to consolidate high-rate credit cards, store cards or personal loan debt from other institutions, and receive 1% cash back up to $1,000 when refinancing with us.
Use member services
You don’t have to let fees and payments stockpile during times of crisis. Ask your financial institution if they’re offering special discounts or services to make managing your finances less stressful. Greater Alliance members are now able to:
- Skip a payment on an eligible loan
- Count on no overdraft fees on transactions of $25 or less
- Overdraft privilege will be discontinued at 35 days, however we will allow up to 60 days to bring the account to a positive balance.
- Get increased ATM and mobile check deposit limits
- Take advantage of extended hours, drive-thru and remote services to manage money multiple ways
Get financial help
Staying financially fit during this crisis can be difficult, even if you have retained your job and are working full-time. With kids and parents home all day, you may be paying more in groceries and electricity, for example. Through our partnership with GreenPath, you can get help with budgeting, debt management and more. See what types of financial assistance is available.
Economic uncertainty comes and goes. It’s easier to stay positive during the low points if you remember, this too will pass. Adjust what you can for the short term, stay focused on the long-term, and remember—we’re all in this together.
*After 90 days your payment will be applied to accrued interest and principal. **APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Loan term 24 months which would result in 24 monthly payments of $4.48 per $100 borrowed for applicants that qualify for the 6.99% APR. All borrowers must have or open a savings and are required to maintain a minimum balance of $100 in their personal savings account to avoid $15 monthly fees. A full credit check will be required for all borrowers. All advertised rates and terms are subject to individual qualifying factors and are subject to change without notice. This loan can’t be used to payoff existing Greater Alliance loans. All applications must be a US citizen or permanent resident and be a member of the credit union for at least 30 days prior to the application and in good standing with the credit union.