The Times they are a Changing
There is a song by Bob Dylan that is called The Times They Are A-Changin’ and as I was writing this article, I put on the song, closed my eyes and just took a moment to listen to the words and all the stress just took a back seat to a song and lyrics that are so relative in these unknown times.
Right now I want to focus on what everyone can do to try to take care of their monthly bills if your income has been affected by the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. As many of you know, I am the President and Founder of BikerDown Foundation, a non-profit that helps injured motorcycle riders. For 10 years, we have helped injured riders with financial guidance and strategy when their income has been immediately impacted by an accident. The current coronavirus health crisis has suddenly put millions of Americans in that same uncertain financial position that injured riders often experience.
Strategies for Managing Finances Now
When you are injured and out of work for the foreseeable future, you must come up with ways to restructure your finances such as car payments, mortgage, rent and other bills. By restructuring or deferring some financial payments, it enables you to save your cash and possibly make another payment paid that you cannot defer (like food). BikerDown encourages people to be PROACTIVE with their bills before they go in arrears and a computer starts spitting out delinquency bills and the collection calls process begins.
Here are a few helpful suggestions on what everyone can do right now to try and stay ahead of the inevitable financial fears that you may have.
- Car payments – call your financial institutions including
Ford, GM, Hyundai, Chrysler as well as others and ask to have 2-3 of your
vehicle payments deferred to the back of the loan. You will find that most, if not all, of them
during COVID-19 are offering these deferments that will help enable you to pay
critical bills such as your mortgage or rent.
- New car purchases – if you are in the market for a new car, Ford, Chrysler and GM are offering (based on your credit) new car purchases with no payments for 6 months.
- Motorcycle payments – deferring motorcycle payments thru Harley-Davidson finance (www.myhdfs.com) are also offering up to 60 days deferments on bike payments. Other motorcycle manufacturers are also stepping in line to help our riding community overcome the financial obligations that we are all experiencing.
- Cable/Internet bills – If you have a high cable bill and/or are no longer part of a VIP package you are probably wondering how you are going to stay connected. Most packages such as Dish, Comcast or Direct TV won’t want to lose your business and now is an excellent time to re-negotiate your package. Most recently I called Direct TV with the intent of cancelling, and they re-organized my DirectTV bills down to 59.95 per month. Please note that when they re-organize or restructure your cable bills, you will be entering into at least a 1 year or more commitment.
- Amazon Fire Stick – this is a great option to be able to get out from under any cable commitments and Fire stick and other providers devices just go into your USB port on the back of your television.
- Smart TV – Most TV’s now come with smart options where with an internet connection you can get many of the programs that you get with a cable provider. Today I checked at Walmart.com and you can buy a SAMSUNG 55″ Class 4K Ultra HD (2160P) HDR Smart for $399.00. So, imagine, if you got rid of a 200.00 per month cable bill and kept your internet and bought a smart tv, the money you could save over the course of a year.
- Utilities – Utilities are more difficult to restructure. However, many electric and water companies offer you the option to average out your bills over the year. As an example, in the spring/summer months when your electric or water bills are much higher, companies like Xcel can average out your electric bill based on an estimated usage to even out your payment. Please note however, that if you do that, in the off-season when your electric bills are normally lower, you will see it go up a little bit.
- Credit Cards – Many will use their credit cards to try and get through the next 30-60 days or until your government checks or unemployment arrive. Call any of your credit card providers and ask for a credit line increase or possibly ask what these financial institutions are offering for payments. Talk with your credit card company before you rack up bills so you know what to expect.
As you can see, by taking a few proactive steps and restructuring your monthly obligations, you can free up your cash to enable you to continue to make your rent or monthly mortgage payments and get thru the next few months.
The biker community is strong and at Colorado Rider News we are doing all that we can to help! If you have any suggestions on other comments, we would love to hear from you. Remember #ColoradoRidersCare