Your Money: How to Adjust Your Auto Payment Spending During the Coronavirus Pandemic
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Coronavirus lockdowns may have surprised many people last month, but with April’s new billing cycle, it’s time for cash-strapped Americans to rethink their spending habits automatic.
Are you deactivating this monthly parking card? Your gym membership? What about the balance owed for the summer camp?
You can have a lot of recurring charges on credit cards that you don’t even notice most months, what experts call gray charges.
“This is a more time than any other when people need to know where their money is going,” said Haroon Mokhtarzada, co-founder and CEO of Truebill, a free service that tracks your spending and helps you cancel services that you do not have. want more.
Automation is generally helpful in personal finance, but it makes things difficult with the economy on hold.
Ramit Sethi, author of “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” and one of the main proponents of this approach, is now holding fireside chats on YouTube to teach his subscribers how to turn off some of these payments and ask for it. ‘aid (bit.ly/3avUZbz).
“You should call your credit card company, your student loan company, and your landlord,” Sethi said. “Many companies are ready to help by suspending payments, restructuring payments, or even waiving payments altogether. “
If you want help with your daily expenses, you’ll have to dig a little deeper. Here’s how to handle some scenarios:
* Commuter benefits
If you have pre-tax deductions taken from your paycheck for rail passes or parking, log into the website that administers the service, like WageWorks, and shut it down. Wait times can be long for a customer service agent if you don’t know how to do it electronically. You may have already missed the April window, depending on your billing date.
WageWorks advises that normal refund policies are still in place. If your pass doesn’t expire, keep it for now, the company said (here).
* Gym memberships
Many national fitness chains have Covid-19 information pages available online, although messaging varies.
Some, like LA Fitness, immediately suspended all billing and waived all freeze charges. Members inadvertently billed during the freeze will have their membership terms extended, said Jill Greuling, president of club operations for the chain.
Others have evolved. 24 Hour Fitness said in a statement that it closed gyms on March 16 and that effective April 16, it will suspend all member billing, if clubs are not open by then. Anyone billed for days that are closed from March 17 to April 15 will “receive additional club access days” added at the end of their membership.
Gym memberships are notoriously difficult to cancel.
“Some, you have to come in person to cancel and bring a form,” noted Adam Dell, head of digital product management for Marcus at Goldman Sachs and founder of Clarity Money. So, for now, you might want to accept the freeze.
Be careful with the simple cancellation of the automatic payment via your credit card. Because you are under contract, the gym could send your account to collections which could damage your credit score.
* Summer programs
Like many summer programs, Camp High Rocks in Brevard, North Carolina, has moved back its “full payment” date, which parents often put in place to automatically charge to credit cards.
Payments that were due in April are now being postponed – some camps extending due dates until June. There is a big question mark as to whether there will be a summer camp for children across America, as schools remain closed.
“We tell parents that if we can’t open we will refund the money,” said camp director Don Gentle. Ideally, families will accept the offer to extend the deposit until 2021.
So far, only two out of around 500 families have canceled, one due to job loss.
Some camps may also offer cancellation insurance, much like travel insurance, said Susie Lupert, executive director of the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey. Your individual camp would know the details.
As a parent, Lupert said she does the same as everyone else, waiting to see what happens.
“We assume they happen, and if they don’t, we’ll deal with it,” Lupert said.
Editing by Lauren Young and Bernadette Baum