Managing your money right now can be a stressful and frustrating experience. Whether you're fighting for a refund on a service that you can long recieve or are debating if you should defer some payments to give you breathing more, there is lots to consider when it comes to finances. I sat down with (from 2,700 km's apart) with Marilyn Denis to discuss my top dos and don'ts for overlooking your money. Watch the segment here.
TRY NOT TO GET INTO MORE DEBT
This is easier said than done, and for some it's not a possibility at all. However, if you're able to avoid adding more debt to your plate, you'll definitely thank yourself down the road. Make sure you've exhausted every option before making a decision that will impact your finances.
ONLY DEFER PAYMENTS IF NECESSARY
You've likely heard about many of the deferrals available for payments. It's important to remember that they're not forgiveness of what you owe. Make sure you contact your bank or lender if you need to find out more information and write down all of the details of your deferral. When it comes to cell phone or internet bills, don't be late on your payments. Many of these companies have extremely long wait times and it can be frustrating to try and figure details out during this time. To avoid that, do everything in your power to pay your bills on time.
BE ON TOP OF CREDIT CARD REFUNDS
One of the biggest selling points of using a credit card over your debit card or cash is that you have better proptections if a merchant goes under or doesn't provide you what you were promised. However, during the COVID-19 crisis, many Canadians have big bills on their credit cards with interest piling up, unsure if they'll be able to swing a refund. From personal shoppers who can't return their merchandise to non-refundable event deposits, there are tons of cases that are preventing credit card users from collecting their money. Be on the ball about opening up disputes with your card company or bank.
DOUBLE-CHECK YOUR STATEMENTS FOR FRAUD
Thousands of Canadians are being looped into scams and money frauds, especially right now. Websites are taking advantage of those that are vulnerable by placing ads that promise to get you your government cheque faster. You could even receive emails saying that your bank is shutting down and asking to provide all of your personal information. Be diligent about clearing out your scam emails and avoid clicking on anything that sounds too good to be true. It's also extremely important to double-check your bank statements weekly or monthly. While many people aren't spending what they normally would, it's still important to check your card history. You only typically have 60 days to report a fraud transaction, and for some banks it's even less.
DON'T RESORT TO LAST RESORTS UNLESS YOU HAVE TO
Cashing out your RRSPs shouldn't be considered unless absolutely necessary. Keep in mind that you lose that 'room' forever, and will be taxed next year. If you take out $1,000 remind yourself that you won't actually get $1,000 in your hands. Avoid pay day loans, try and find any other way to get through.
REACH OUT FOR HELP
Whether it's a Certified Financial Planner or a non-profit credit counselor, don't be afraid to ask a professional for help. Many people have never called their bank for financial relief and the process feel hard to navigate. Many financial planners are offering free guidance calls to those affected by COVID-19, so take advantage of the resources you have available to get effective advice.
DON'T FEEL GUILTY FOR A REASONABLE AMOUNT OF SPENDING
While it's not recommended to go on a huge online shopping spree in an attempt to avoid your financial situation, don't beat yourself up if you've treated yourself to a few new items recently. Try not to put 'wants' on your credit card, but if small luxuries help get you through this, that's okay.