6 Ways to Improve Your Financial Health During Times of Crisis
During his weekly employee address, C&N’s President and CEO, Brad Scovill, often refers to the rapid pace of adjustments required to effectively help customers through the COVID-19 pandemic. While C&N has been able to adjust quickly to meet these new demands, it will take some time for consumers to recover financially from the disruption. Many are learning how to cope with new, unfamiliar challenges when it comes to their financial health.
The good news is that you can take proactive steps now to make changes that will help you adjust and recover, keeping your long-term financial health strong and intact.
1. Use tech to your advantage
With an extensive suite of digital banking resources, C&N customers can control their money from anywhere, anytime. Now that social distancing measures are in place across the country, it is more important than ever to take advantage of your bank’s digital services.
This powerful technology brings the branch to you, 24/7. Manage your bills and payments, send money to friends and family, transfer between accounts and deposit your stimulus check with a tap on your smartphone or a click of your mouse. If you haven’t used any of these services yet, now is a great time to give them a try.
2. Stay alert to scams
Fraudsters and cybercriminals now have millions of potential new victims. At C&N, we’ve invested in strong cyber-defense systems to protect our customers and we’ve built libraries of resources to keep you informed & prepared so you can confidently enjoy the conveniences of modern technology. Still, there are some things you should know to protect yourself, as well.
Banks will never ask you for confidential, personal information, like your PIN, secure access code or password. Be mindful of emails, texts or messages that look like they’re coming from a legitimate source, like a government agency or your financial institution, that pressure you for this information. Messages that mention COVID-19 or include either an urgent call to action or contain suspicious links or attachments should be deleted. If you are in doubt, check out official resources like the Federal Trade Commission's™ consumer website for information on common scams and how to report them.
Also, be sure your bank has your current contact information on file. At C&N, sophisticated security mechanisms will detect suspicious account activity. So, it’s important to keep your contact information current so we can reach you if needed.
3. Check your due dates
Collect all your bills and subscription services and make a list of their due dates. Check the websites listed on your bills to find out if the companies are allowing delayed payments and/or waiving late fees during the COVID crisis - and how opting for those options may affect your credit score. If you must delay payments, contact the payees to discuss your payment plan; they may be willing to negotiate better terms.
4. Revisit your budget
Keep evaluating and adjusting your budget to account for income reductions or changes in expenses. Recording all purchases can help you pinpoint exactly where your money is going. You may find you're now spending significantly less on transportation, clothing and entertainment and can reallocate that money toward other essential needs. Our website has budgeting tools and calculators that can help you get started.
5. Keep tabs on your credit
Understand what kinds of activity can impact your credit score. If you apply for a loan or credit card or refinance debt on your home loan, your credit score is an important factor on the rate and terms you’ll receive. The major credit bureaus each offer services of their own, as do some banks and credit card companies. Visit our C&N Library for smart tips to track and improve your credit score.
6. Rebuild when you can
If you're using savings to get you through some challenges right now, start to rebuild when you’re financially able. At that point, reestablish a safety net to help you cover your everyday needs. Whether you are still expecting a stimulus payment or have already received a lump sum or relief funds, consider setting some aside for savings.
Taking these proactive steps now will help you more easily adjust to this recent disruption and keep your long-term financial health strong and intact. Visit our website at cnbankpa.com for related articles, tools, calculators and other resources. Of course, we welcome you to connect directly with any of your local Williamsport C&N experts - we’re here to help.