How To Deal With Credit Woes During Tough Times

If you’re out of work, you can’t pay your bills. What should you do? Don’t despair, because there are plenty of options.

Let’s look at your biggest expense first: Housing. Many landlords are giving tenants some leeway. Everyone is in this boat, so you might get a break.

With mortgages, it will be a little more difficult. That doesn’t mean you can’t ask for late fees to be waived. They may ask for some documentation.

What about your credit cards? With more than 6 million filing for unemployment, credit card issuers are more than aware of the problem. That doesn’t mean they will be cutting you some slack on fees, though.

According to a survey by CreditCards.com, some 110 million Americans carried card debt into this current crisis. Ted Rossman, an industry analyst with the company, offers these suggestions:

  • File for unemployment and other benefits, if applicable
  • Contact credit card issuers and other lenders if you’re having trouble making payments
  • Get a 0% balance transfer card if you have credit card debt and can get approved
  • Conserve cash, especially if it’s limited – cut nonessential spending, track down tax and event ticket refunds and redeem credit card rewards
  • 0% introductory APR cards are another idea, if you can get one

The good news: If you’re not going out, you can cut down expenses by eliminating discretionary spending like restaurants, bars and entertainment.

Also look at in-home expenses that can be cut like cable, cleaning and deliveries. You’d be surprised at how much you can save.

THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images