Tips for Negotiating Bills During the Pandemic
As we continue to live in a state of uncertainty during the pandemic, many Americans are still dealing with its economic impact. Whether it’s unemployment, reduced income or medical bills, individuals and families are struggling to make ends meet. Negotiating bills during the pandemic is one way to stretch your budget and ease some of the financial burdens. Let’s look at some tips for doing that.
Communication is Key
Creditors can’t help you if they don’t know you’re struggling. Reach out to your creditors and explain that you have been impacted by the pandemic and see what types of relief they’re offering. You may be able to reduce payments, receive lower interest rates, or skip payments with no fees or negative effects on your credit.
Address Medical Bills
Whether you have medical bills directly related to a COVID diagnosis or you’re struggling to pay other medical costs you should be able to find some relief. Most hospitals and medical providers offer payment assistance programs for lower-income patients. But even if you don’t qualify for those programs, you should be able to arrange a payment plan.
Check with Utility Providers
The last thing you want to deal with when you’re struggling is having your water or power shut off. Contact your utility companies before you miss a payment to let them know you’ve been impacted by COVID. Depending on your account standing, you may be able to skip a payment or divide it into smaller payments. If those options are not available, see if your providers offer “equalizer” plans. These plans average out your usage from the prior year and estimate a fixed monthly payment for services. This makes it easier to budget and eliminates the seasonal spikes in your bill.
Trim Other Expenses
Spend some time looking at other bills such as cable, cell phone, internet, insurance and other services to see if you can negotiate lower rates. Find out what promotional rates companies are offering new customers and see if your current providers will match those rates. In some cases, you may be able to drastically cut costs by eliminating some services, such as cutting the cord and moving to a streaming service instead.
If you need assistance with budgeting during the pandemic, our free financial review provides a personalized budget, along with recommended solutions for tackling credit card debt.