Although the global pandemic is still leaving its mark worldwide, we have started adapting to life around COVID-19. Life goes on, and in its wake, debt continues piling up. For some, financial struggles are unavoidable.
Many college students find themselves battling a magnitude of hardships that COVID-19 caused. According to Best Colleges:
- One out of every five college students experienced the death of a friend or family member in the last year.
- About 54% believe COVID-19 circumstances affected their mental health
- More than 25% experienced financial difficulties and a decrease in household income
- Around 17% of college students are dealing with food insecurity or have during the pandemic
- And 97% of students surveyed believe COVID-19 has impacted their lives outside of school
The height of the pandemic created confusion and left many trying to figure out how to survive financially and mentally. Losing a parent, grandparent, or effective support system may have also put a strain on budgets for college students, forcing them to take control of their finances and fend for themselves. Imagine grieving and managing the pressures of rent, food, tuition, and books. Being in survival mode does not allow many college students to make “wise financial decisions.”
Dr. Erika Rasure, a financial therapist of Beyond Finance, offers clients words of hope and encouragement during their journey to become debt-free.
“There are millions who struggle with debt,” said Dr. Rasure. “In times of crisis, it’s vital to know that you are not alone. If you have had some financial mishaps, remember that you are not a mistake and are not the embodiment of that mistake.”
At Beyond Finance, we care about educating our clients and providing them with resources regarding debt, specifically college students who are finding themselves in a rough situation due to COVID-19. While no one knows when we will live in a pandemic-free world, most businesses are doing their part.
Regarding unexpected debt, we provide essential tips to prepare others for financial struggles that can help anyone, including you, climb out of the debt sinkhole you face.
When creditors contact you frequently and past due notices fill your mailbox, it’s natural to panic. Give yourself grace, especially as a college student. Life happens, but self-care is equally important.
Try doing active things like meditation, working out, and daily walks. Most college campuses offer a few free counseling sessions to help you focus on your mental health and expose you to options designed to better your situation.
“Connect with yourself and others, and don’t neglect your mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being,” Dr. Rasure said. “It’s important to focus on the relationships that matter to us most.”
Financial stress and anxiety can be exacerbated when we neglect our personal and economic values, according to Dr. Rasure. And before long, we lose our sense of self and how we fit into the world around us.
Build a Plan
Once you acknowledge the situation that led to your debt getting out of control, commit to making a plan. Budgeting is crucial but can be difficult when your monthly income is already low.
Make a budget and track your spending habits. Many mobile banking apps have a built-in spending tracker for your account.
Utilize all your resources. Sometimes just being able to see where your money goes physically will open opportunities for you to cut back. Research and use free apps.
They may have paid for additional features, but the free models can help anyone. Even if you don’t have access to those apps, just writing down your budget will help tremendously. Also, write down long- and short-term financial goals to help you stay on track for larger purchases and build savings.
Learn About Credit
Understanding credit and learning how to use it appropriately is not often provided to young adults. Do your research before signing up for a credit card or loan. Make sure you are asking the critical questions, such as:
- What is the annual percentage rate (APR) rate?
- When does the interest start to compile?
- How much is the credit card limit?
- What percentage of that limit should you spend?
Sometimes, compiling debt and mental anguish can be too much for one person to handle. It is okay to ask for help. Your financial struggles do not have to be a long-term issue.
Explore what options are available.
Beyond Finance is a great resource. We have helped millions of people in your position. Our program will help you emerge ready for the future. Beyond Finance has one goal-moving you beyond debt.