As a bankruptcy attorney, I am getting flooded with paniced calls from Georgia consumers who are getting laid off, having their hours reduced, or just plain losing their jobs. While we all keep waiting to see when we can get to “normal” it appears that we are all looking at least another month or two of living with this uncertainty and finanical disruption. For some people, losing their job or even being laid off temporarily is enough to push them into the inability to even cover living expenses. For others, they may be able to weather a month or two before they are unable to to pay their basic bills. No what situation you find yourself, before you panic, sit down and write out your 30, 60, and 90 day financial plan.
TIME FOR YOUR REALITY CHECK:
Prioritize bills – Whether your job has been affected or not, look at all your bills and identify which ones are critical and those that you may not need to pay immediately. Many companies are offering to allow consumer to skip payments for at least 30 days.
Reduce spending– You should start reducing nonessential and discretionary spending in the event things get worse. These expenses can include entertainment, certain food items, and luxuries. Those savings should be stuffed away in a savings account as an emergency fund in the event you lose income in the next few weeks or months.
Reach out to credit card companies – If you’re already losing income and having difficulty paying your debts, reach out to your credit cards providers immediately. Generally, credit card providers offer hardship programs, and some will even provide a small period for nonpayment. Many have now issued statements regarding their willingness to work with card holders who are facing financial strain due to the coronavirus. Please check the links at the bottom of our page for some links to some of the major banks.
Change how you pay student loans – The Department of Education has announced that it will waive interest accrual for deferments and forbearances for the foreseeable future. This will be very helpful for those who have no other option but to suspend their payments temporarily. Private student loans will have different policies so make sure you check.
Small Business Administration: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources
Georgia Department of Labor: https://dol.georgia.gov/blog/new-information-filing-unemployment-partial-claims-and-reemployment-services