Michael Holmes, the lead financial advisor and president of Delta Credit Restoration, located in Brandon.

By Michael Holmes, Delta Credit Restoration

During these times, our credit is either a blessing or an angst. The reality is, if we are worried about feeding our kids, we are not worried about a credit card payment.

During this crisis there are opportunities to protect your credit—even without payment. The biggest lesson we teach our clients is that your credit is not a score, rather the behavior that leads to the score. The second lesson we teach is that you have to be aware of what’s going on around you financially.

Just because you aren’t lendable doesn’t mean you can’t have good credit. By maintaining good credit behavior, you minimize the time it takes to improve your financial situation and your lendability when this is all over. Here are three steps you can take to help protect your credit throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Step one: Create a budget.

Your budget is the cornerstone to your credit. Most people don’t understand where their money is going until they actually see the real numbers. Credit begins in your checking account, not your credit report.

How you handle your assets will determine how you handle your debts. If you don’t do this, nothing else in this article will matter. Even if you don’t like the numbers you see, it is still your budget, and knowing the deficit is half the battle of overcoming it.

Step two: Communicate with your creditors.

You need to know what options you have to keep accounts open, avert fees, prevent negative reporting and avoid catch-up payments. All these are options most creditors are offering during this crisis even without payment. Just ensure that if you take their help, you ask what the consequences are.

Also, as with any conversation with your creditors, make sure to take very concise notes. Notate the representative with which you spoke, the number and time you called and the location of that rep. If at all possible, speak to a specific person that is re-reachable in case you have to call back later.

Step three: Seek help.

There are professionals that can help you. Don’t be embarrassed. No one is immune to hard times. Sometimes, you are too close to a situation to go at it alone. Even doctors seek the help of other doctors.

If you want self-help options, look up Delta Credit Restoration on YouTube.