This monthly column comes from the Arlington Community Federal Credit Union as part of their mission to financially empower the community. Credit unions are not-for-profit member-owned cooperatives and anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, goes to school, or does business in Arlington, Falls Church, Alexandria, or Fairfax County is eligible to join ACFCU.*
The impacts of COVID-19 are creating financial uncertainty for people everywhere. Here are some tips to help you navigate your finances in a difficult time.
- Contact your financial institution: Reach out proactively if you have concerns about paying bills on time. Institutions may offer payment deferrals, elimination of early withdrawal penalties for liquidating certificates (known as CDs at banks), hardship loans, or other options.
- If possible, build up your emergency savings: If you still have an income stream, set aside savings for an emergency account that covers at least three to six months of expenses. If you need to tap into this later, you’ll be glad that you prepared.
- Consider low interest debt options: Evaluate your options with your financial institution to see what works for your situation. If you need to borrow, using a Home Equity Loan or Home Equity Line of Credit may be less expensive than higher-interest options like credit cards or unsecured personal loans. For those who don’t own homes, look no further than your car. Auto loan interest rates are very low right now, letting you take advantage of your car’s equity. Make sure to compare rates between institutions to find the best deal. It never hurts to ask for a rate match or lower rate.
- Reach out for government assistance for urgent needs: If you are in a crisis, call Arlington Department of Human Services at 703-228-1300. They can refer you to resources for food assistance, emergency financial assistance and more. Visit the Virginia Employment Commission website to apply for unemployment insurance.
Federally insured by NCUA. *Membership eligibility requirements apply.