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Why You Should Prioritize Your Bills During COVID-19

Published: January 19, 2021
 

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an era of uncertainty around work. Maybe you were furloughed, or you anticipate a round of layoffs coming around the bend. Even if you’re still working, you may be seeing reduced shifts and less pay. Regardless of your current income, you still have to pay your bills. But what should you pay when?

High Priorities

The best way to prioritize is to make a list of your bills and organize them by what you can live without and what you can’t live without. The things you cannot live without should be your highest priorities, and they should be the bills you pay first. Your high priorities should include:

  • Housing—You need to keep a roof over your head, so your rent or mortgage payment should be your No. 1 priority. If you now struggle to make those payments, contact your landlord to see if they can work with you. While many cities and states are under an eviction freeze, that doesn’t mean you won’t be responsible for your missed payments or that you can’t be evicted once the freeze lifts.
  • Groceries—Your family needs to eat and drink, so your grocery bill should definitely be a high priority. To lower your bill, look through the weekly store ads and build your meals around what’s on sale. Use coupons and buy generic brands, which are usually of the same quality as the big-name brands but cost much less. If you still cannot put food on the table, consider accepting government assistance or visiting a food pantry until you get back on your financial feet.
  • Utilities—We often take for granted the lamps we use to light up a room or the water we use to wash our hands, but those creature comforts are essential, especially during a pandemic. Make sure that your water and electric bills are paid on time so that you can cook your food and keep your home clean. But if you’re having trouble paying, reach out to the provider. They may be willing to create a payment schedule you can afford.
  • Car—If you miss a car payment, your vehicle could be repossessed. Make sure you keep up with your payment schedule as well as your car insurance bills. Just as you would contact your landlord about your rent or mortgage, reach out to your lender to see if they can work with you on your car payments.
  • Student Loans—On top of the essentials that you need for daily life, you’ll also have to fit any unsecured debt into your monthly budget. This includes credit card debt as well as student loans. Although a federally mandated forbearance has been placed on all government-issued student loans, it will expire on January 31, 2021. You can continue to make payments until then to lower your balance, but if you choose not to, you will need to resume the payback process in the new year. To find the cheapest repayment payment plan, contact your loan servicer to find out what your options are.

 

Other high priority payments may include childcare and medical bills. Everything else is nonessential and may need to be temporarily cut from your budget. Your career and education are also priorities, and at Charter College, we offer students many options to pay for your educational costs. To learn more about the types of financial aid that may be available to you, call 888-200-9942.