How to Best Manage Your Finances During Hard Times – Part 1

Hard times are upon many people during this pandemic. The worldwide change is forcing us to rethink our usual financial habits and even our daily life in general for the time being. The tips below can help you best manage your finances while we press through the current situation.

Check Your Account Balances Regularly

Today’s technology gives us the most immediate options for checking our balances. No more hoping your checkbook register is correct or relying on monthly paper statements. Now, you don’t even have to wait until you get home to check your accounts on your computer. Mobile banking apps are great resources for checking your accounts often – anywhere, anytime. Take advantage of this technology so you always know what is in your account. Some apps, like Patriot’s, even allow you to see transactions that are going to hit your account soon, so you know when to add more money before you receive an overdraft fee. If you haven’t already, download the Patriot Mobile app here.

Set Up Alerts for Low Balances

Account alerts are another helpful piece of technology for managing accounts. On Patriot’s eBranch, you can set up account alerts to text or email you when your account reaches a certain balance, when a certain transaction size processes, when your loan payment is due, and more. These alerts are free to set up, and are sent as soon as a “trigger”, like a balance level or number of transactions, takes place in your account. You can set up account alerts in eBranch here. If you need assistance, please call us at 888-777-9982.

Link Other Accounts

At Patriot, you can link your checking account to your savings account or a Patriot line of credit. Using Linked Account Transfers, you can set up for money to pull from one of the aforementioned accounts if you don’t have enough money in your checking account to cover the charge. Sometimes, this transfer option comes with a fee, but is usually much less costly than an overdraft fee and the transaction would still be paid as long as there was enough money in your savings or line of credit.

Change Overdraft Protection Settings

If you have Courtesy Pay (or an overdraft protection program) set up on your account, you may want to consider changing the settings. Some programs will cover debit card charges, which can add up overdraft fees without you even knowing it’s happening. For example, if your rent payment automatically came out of your account first thing in the morning resulting in an overdraft, then you bought coffee before work and went out for lunch that day, you would quickly have over $100 in overdraft fees. To minimize this, you can have the overdraft settings changed so that only recurring debit card charges (such as a gym membership or Netflix subscription), ACH withdrawals (such as a car loan, mortgage, or rent payment), and checks are covered. In this scenario, you’d be aware of your negative account balance when your transaction was denied while trying to purchase your coffee, ultimately reducing your overdraft charges and saving you money.

Budget a Buffer

When doing your monthly budgeting, try to budget a buffer amount to leave in your checking, if possible, just in case there are any discrepancies you didn’t plan for. For more information on starting a budget, visit the personal finance section of our Learning Center blog.

Use Lines of Credit

Using lines of credit when you don’t have enough in your checking can be dangerous, as you do not want to rack up thousands of dollars in credit card debt, but sometimes, it is the best option. You should always try to keep lines of credit free for an emergency – not having enough in your checking account to cover essentials like food and rent can be considered an emergency. If you choose to use a line of credit, try to pay off any accumulated debt as soon as possible once your situation improves. If the ability to cover essentials becomes a hardship in your home, there are community resources and assistance available.

If you are in the midst of a hard financial time, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Contact Center at 888-777-9982. We will get through this together!

Share This Article: