The health crisis has been ongoing for over 12 months and with the recurring wave of infections happening across the globe, it seems that there is no end-in-sight available anytime soon.
Due to the crisis, many aspects of our lives have suddenly become different. We experienced major changes in the way we work, our children's educational system, even our dining, and shopping habits. On a larger note, the crisis has greatly impacted the economy, job security, and personal finance.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the current US unemployment rate is at 6%, or 9.7 million are unemployed as of March 2021. While in the Philippines, the most recent report by the Philippine Statistics Authority states that as of February 2021, unemployment worsens in the country as we now have 8.8% or 4.2 million Filipinos reported jobless compared to the 5.3% unemployment rate in January 2020.
What does the current unemployment rate have to do with credit card debts?
This simply means with all the uncertainties happening right now, having a credit card debt or other outstanding loans may not be a good idea. There is a huge possibility that further lockdowns might take place and unemployment (whether permanent or temporary) or reduced income will continue to rise in the next few months.
What can we do about it?
If you are currently employed and still continue to have a source of income right now, first you need to do is stop borrowing. If you have some outstanding credit card debts, prioritize paying them off as well. It will help you save money since it means that you don't have to pay more interest (which is just money down the drain)
Don't you think it is better to keep or hold on to my money?
Though having cash on hand is good especially during emergencies, paying off your credit card debts will give you peace of mind. Remember that when the unexpected comes (like unemployment or loss of income), it won't be an excuse to miss out on your obligations. You will continue to incur more penalties and charges which just makes the situation worse.
Instead, you can use your credit card as a lifeline during emergencies.
I am not really sure if I have to capacity to pay it in full. I have limited resources.
If you have limited resources, it is best to come up with a plan on how you can pay your credit card debts. Find out how much is your income and how much funds you can allocate for payments. Compute what portion of your actual payments go to the interest and the principal. If you are not sure how to do it, you can use a free credit card payment calculator. It will also give you insights into how monthly payments are left if you are just paying the minimum or a certain amount.
Once you have this information about your payment capacity, you can contact your bank and ask for a payment arrangement. Usually, they can offer lower interest rates or lower minimum payments. All you need to do is ask.
I am already in trouble and have missed some payments.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, amnesty and relief programs are available to help delinquent cardholders pay off their outstanding payments and restructure their credit card debt.
Thus, do not lose hope when you are in this situation. If you have already incurred some late fees and penalties, don't be scared to reach out to your bank. Instead, let them know your situation and the hardships that you are facing. Many companies are able to waive or refund fees to help their clients during this time of need.