I’m no stranger to financial stress, especially after all the unemployment spells my family has had to deal with in the last two years.
Due to the nature of my husband’s work, which is in industrial construction, projects start and projects end, which means sometimes there are unemployment gaps. It also means that he works outside, making his work hours and pay inconsistent and difficult to predict.
Thankfully, all those finance classes I took in college didn’t go to waste because I’ve been able to take what I learned in the classroom and apply it to managing my family’s fluctuating finances.
One of the many things I’ve learned over the years has been how to navigate our money during times of financial stress. When money gets tight around here (like it did for us in the second half of 2020), I know exactly what bills I can postpone and for approximately how long.
In today’s post, I’m sharing which bills I know (through personal experience) can be postponed with little or no late fee. The only catch is that you have to be proactive. Which means you have to contact the companies before you’re late. (*gulp*)
You have nothing to be ashamed of.
Before I dive into this post, I want to first take a minute to let you know that I understanding how embarrassing it feels to admit that you can’t pay a debt that you owe when you’re in the middle of financial stress.
If the thought of calling a creditor to admit your hardship makes you feel uneasy, you’re not alone. I’ve found myself on the verge of tears when speaking to representatives multiple times over the years.
Remember, financial stress can happen to anyone – even someone with the best of plans (or someone who’s studied financial planning like me). So please be kind to yourself if you’re feeling ashamed of your situation.
When it comes to your money, it’s always better to admit to your creditors when things aren’t going well than it is to ignore their phone calls. The sooner you ask for relief, the more likely you’ll receive it.
On that note, here are 4 bills that you can postpone if you’re currently facing financial stress:
1. Student loan payments
Applying for a private or federal student loan forbearance is a simple process. You just call them up and explain that you’d like to apply for it. Depending on the servicer, there might be a few types of hardships to apply for. For example, this summer, when Hurricane Laura hit my area, I applied for a natural disaster forbearance on my private student loan to help ease the financial burdens we faced during what turned out to be an extremely stressful time. You can expect to be able to postpone payments for up to 3 months.
2. Car loan payments
Just like with student loans, applying for a car loan deferment is fairly simple. Contact your lender and request it. However, it’s important to up to find out exactly what type of payment postponement your lender is allowing. One time, when my husband’s original car loan note ended, we were billed for the remaining balance of an amount equal to 3 months worth of payments. This was because that lender pushed the deferred payments until the end of the loan instead of granting us a loan term extension. If you go this route, your only requirement to qualify should be that you’ve made at least 12 months of consecutive on-time payments.
3. Cell phone bill payments
This bill postponement was new for me in 2020, but basically, I contacted our cell phone company (Verizon) and explained my husband’s unemployment situation. They were able to issue me a payment extension, but it was for only two weeks. When the two weeks came to an end and I still couldn’t pay, I called them again and was issued another two-week extension. If I didn’t do this, my service would have been disconnected for non-payment. (A great example of why it’s always important to contact your creditors before your late.)
4. Credit card payments
Again, this was another new bill postponement for us in 2020, and honestly, one that we weren’t too sure would even allow us to postpone payments. We only contacted our biggest credit card lender (though I’m sure we could have contacted others and asked for relief from them, too). Since we also have our auto loan with this lender, and we always paid our credit card on time, we felt confident that they would assist us with providing relief. After asking, we were able to skip 3 months of payments. (A lesson that it never hurts to just ask.)
While it isn’t ideal to delay debt repayments, it’s been comforting to know that postponing student loans, car loans, cell phone bills, and credit cards is always an option for us when times get tough.
I hope that perhaps you’ve learned something new through what’s I’ve shared today about my experience with postponing bills during financial stress. And, as I said before, if you are struggling to pay bills, you have nothing to feel embarrassed about.
If this post has left you with any questions about bill postponements, send me a DM on Instagram and I’ll do my best to guide you in the right direction.
Wishing you better financial days ahead, mama.