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How to manage and prioritize your bills in the time of COVID-19

As you prepare for the “new normal” life, you have to be ready to deal with upcoming payment dues for your loans, bills and utilities. These tips will help you prioritize your payment and manage your money.

  1. Prioritize bills that cover essential needs
  2. Rethink subscription plans
  3. Cut down unnecessary online shopping
  4. Check grace periods of your loan payments
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask billers questions or payment options

 

The life that we know and are very much used to has taken a major shift after the government imposed an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), where restaurants and non-essential services were shut down and people were required to stay in their homes. Summer vacation plans, festivities, and social gatherings were also cancelled.

However, payment dues for loans and utilities kept coming. The question now is, how do we identify which bill to prioritize after the lockdown.

The good news is that under the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” all lending institutions in the Philippines were required to give 30-day grace periods for all loans with payment dues that fall within the ECQ period.

This new law, which was passed in March 2020, covers all banks, quasi-banks, non-stock savings and loan associations, and credit card issuers, among other financial institutions.

With the extension of the ECQ, many banks have extended “grace periods” for loan payments, even offering to extend the maturity of loans to clients. Water and electricity suppliers did the same, with some offering staggered payment options.

For some, such delay in payments is a huge relief. However, failing to properly take note of payment due dates and amount may result in “bill shock.” To avoid finding yourself in such a precarious situation, here’s what you should do:

Prioritize basic needs

Water, electricity, food, and housing are some of the things that you cannot live without. Settle these essential bills first, and if you can, pay consistently.

Banks now offer automated bill payments using your credit card, which can be hassle-free because it offers timely payment for utilities, including electricity, cable, Internet, water, telephone, and mobile phone bills. But before you start paying through your credit card, check your billers grace period as they may allow you to skip bill payments during the lockdown.

Meanwhile, Internet banking can also provide you ease of paying your bills from the comforts of your home.

Read More about the Metrobank Card Bills2Pay

Rethink your subscriptions

Some payments can be paused for now, including the streaming apps you rarely use. Gyms and recreational hubs will also remain closed even after the ECQ. Find a way to pause these payments.

Say ‘no’ to temptation

While staying at home makes one prone to doing more online shopping, resist the temptation to spend and set aside extra cash for emergencies or settlement of pre-existing bills.

Check out your biller’s grace period

Upon receipt of any billing, check your service provider’s website or social media accounts for payment-related announcements and if they are offering a grace period. It’s best to know.

For Metrobank, please see link for loan and credit card grace period: https://metrobank.com.ph/grace-period

Reach out to your biller

Contact your biller–home lessor, branch of account or insurance agent for possible payment options. Customers with good standing are often granted leeway for a short period. Perhaps you can negotiate for an extension of your payment. Or, if you can negotiate to spread payments of the loan over an agreed period of time, that’s another option you can take.

Alternatively, if you have a credit card, you can consider what is known as a “balance conversion.” You can do balance conversion when you receive bills after the grace period or a payment holiday. It works by converting your balance into a lighter monthly payment period from three up to 60 months. You can find out from your credit card issuer to know if this option is available to you.

For Metrobank credit card Balance Conversion facility, you may visit: https://metrobankcard.com/cardsservices/balance-conversion

You can buy extra time in settling your bills. But you cannot escape them. Missing out on due dates can affect your relationship with the biller and even ruin your credit score.


This article is part of a collection of stories and practical financial tips that are published to help people learn from the experiences of others, and to pick out lessons on personal finance and sound money habits beyond the pandemic.