Updated on July 27, 2021
Are you currently facing financial hardship? Or are you worried about a possible job loss in your future? In either case, it’s important to reach out to anyone you may be financially indebted to in order to discuss your particular situation and the impact on your ability to repay them.
Terms to Know and Understand
Your lender may modify the terms of your loan to reduce the interest rate, extend the current maturity term, offer a different loan type, or offer any combination of these. If you anticipate a conversation with your lender about a loan modification, get familiar with terms you might hear during your discussion.
- Deferment – Essentially, you’re hitting the “pause” button on your loan repayment, and usually in response to some temporary hardship situation (e.g., unexpected medical expense) One to two months of delayed payments is a common offering in these circumstances. Typically, the deferred payments are added onto the end of the original term of the loan. If this is an option you consider, it’s important to find out if the deferment is interest free or if interest is accruing during the deferment period, as it will impact the amount you ultimately pay back.
- Skip-a-pay – A specific type of deferment that typically allows you to make no payment for one month without requiring a hardship situation. Skip-a-pay programs are usually subject to certain factors, including whether the loan payments are current. Closed-end loans such as personal loans and auto loans are often candidates for skip-a-pay programs.
- Forbearance – Like a deferment, forbearance involves delayed payments, generally for a mortgage loan. Where a deferment covers one to two months of delayed payments, a forbearance agreement could cover a period of up to 12 months. During that forbearance period, the lender can agree to accept reduced payments (or even no payments), often during a short trial period, in exchange for delaying certain collection remedies. At the end of the forbearance period, the agreement may specify a return to higher payments, extend the maturity term, or make another modification.
What to Do
It’s important to consult your budget (or make one if you don’t have one in place) when considering major financial decisions. If you know that you’re going to have trouble making payments, contact your lenders as soon as possible.
When you’re able to talk with someone, explain your situation and let them describe the options they can offer. You may be dealing with several lenders, so be prepared to take notes during each conversation. Keep any documentation you receive about arrangements you’ve worked out in a safe place, and continue making payments until you receive official confirmation regarding when the program takes effect.
If you do secure an arrangement that allows you to delay loan payments, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your credit report. To do so, visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
Take Control of Your Finances
Remember, even if you’re delaying payments on a debt, you’re responsible for tracking and repaying what you owe. While you have a respite from monthly payments, continue to look for ways to save money or make extra cash. And for more money management tips, visit our WalletWorks page.