What happens if you’re late on a loan payment? There are the fees and the credit score losses, of course, but there’s also often a general feeling that one’s finances are falling out of control. If you find yourself forced to make a late loan payment, don’t panic – you can follow the steps below to get yourself back on track.
Figure Out the Problem
One of the most important steps in determining what to do when you’re behind on a loan payment is figuring out why you’re falling behind. There’s a huge difference between falling behind because you’ve had a financial emergency and falling behind because you’re hitting long-term financial roadblocks, so take a few moments to look at where you stand.
The easiest way to do this is to think about whether you’re going to be able to make your next payment on time. If you had an emergency expense – a car that broke down or an HVAC system that failed – it’s entirely possible that you’re dealing with a short-term problem that will go away soon. If you’ve been laid off from your job or suddenly incurred another recurring expense, you’ll need to start examining the possibility that you’re going to have to radically alter your finances going forward.
Assess Your Finances
Whether you’re dealing with a temporary shortfall or a long-term problem, you do need to stop and look at your finances. If you can’t make your loan payment, you have a short-term cash flow problem that you need to address. For most, this problem can be solved by a little budgeting.
Take a moment to compile all of your monthly expenses, from the payments on your auto loans in east Texas to the money you spend going out to eat. Look at where your money is going and where you can start to save. If you’re dealing with a short-term problem that makes it hard to pay your loan, look to see if there’s something you can cut for the rest of the month to get that payment in on time. If you’re dealing with a long-term problem, find out if there are costs that you can eliminate or reduce in order to keep your head above water.
Think About the Consequences
What happens if you are late on a loan payment? This is going to vary by lender, but it’s something you need to keep in mind. A single late payment is probably not going to be catastrophic in the long-term, but it’s going to have consequences that you have to deal with. Take a look at your various bills and loans to figure out what penalties are going to occur if you are late.
As a rule, it’s wise to avoid being late on those loans or bills that have the harshest penalties. A single late payment will almost certainly bring with it a late fee, but it might be less than the fee on a different loan if you’re able to pay it shortly after the grace period is over. On the other hand, coming in a month late on that same mortgage payment might not only cause you to accrue a late fee, but it might cause a negative mark on your credit that makes future borrowing more difficult.
Call the Lender
If you know that you are going to have to make a late payment on a loan, make sure to call your lender ahead of time. Most lenders are willing to help out borrowers who make good-faith efforts to pay, especially when they know that they’ll be able to get their money in the long run. Remember, a lender’s goal is to ensure that you pay off a loan so he or she doesn’t want you to default.
Calling a lender isn’t a guarantee that you’ll avoid the consequences of a missed payment, but it’s a good way to establish that you’re trying your hardest. If the lender offers any help, make sure to get that offer in writing. Once that’s available, follow the agreement to the letter.
If you’re falling behind on a loan, try not to panic. You still have a way out, even if things look tough. If you’re looking for a lender who will help you to make the financial choices that make sense for your family, make sure to contact Eastex Credit Union today.