What to Remember When Writing a Hardship Letter
At some point in your life it’s possible that you’ll become victim to some type of financial trouble. It could be for any reason from adding an addition to your family to losing someone. When these things happen, creditors are willing to be a little lenient but you’ll need to write them a hardship letter.
There are many aspects that you’ll have to keep in mind to write an effective letter in terms of what to include and structure. To help you get the assistance that you need, here is everything that you should remember when writing your hardship letter.
The Purpose of Your Hardship Letter
Before you can start writing your letter, you have to figure out what the purpose of it is. What is your goal? Here are a few options:
- Bring your account current
- Suspend past due amounts
- Lower your current minimum payments
- Adjust your interest rate
- Modify your loan
- Consider a settlement option
- Agree to a short sale of a home
If you have no idea which avenue you want to go down, you can see a financial coach to have them break it down for you. Now that you’ve got your goal in mind, you can sit down and write a draft of the actual letter. Here are a few writing tips to get you started toward writing an effective letter.
Make it Original
It’s okay to find a hardship letter template online and use it as a base for writing the actual draft but you don’t want to follow it word for word. You need to come across as sincere in your letter. If you follow a template you found, you risk sounding like a robot. It’s better to be original.
If you lie in your letter, the lender will find out. You need to describe your situation honestly and provide documents to back up any big claims that you make. Also, they may call you and ask you to describe your situation in better detail over the phone. Answer their questions open and honestly.
It Should Be Concise
You’ll be tempted to give your entire tragic backstory in the letter, but this is a bad idea even if it’s a huge situation. Write down the most important details only to keep things concise. Creditors are busy people. They get letters like this all day, so if you turn in a paper stack it may take a while for you to get a response. Keep it to one page.
Don’t Shirk Responsibility
Your letter is your place to explain your situation, not name names and point fingers. Blaming someone else and not taking responsibility will cause any creditor to raise their eyebrow a bit. Describe your exact situation, how you responded to to it, and how the creditor can help you get back on your feet.
Don’t Use Fancy Words
Again, you want your letter to be short, sweet, and to the point. It will be a bit hard to do this if you fill the space with big fancy words. You won’t impress the creditor with that. You need to write it so it’s simple enough that someone at a 6th-grade reading level can understand it.
Don’t Stray from Your Objectives
Don’t stray from your objectives. You are in a horrible financial situation and need the creditor to help. Don’t beat around the bush with it. You have to convince them that you can’t get out of the situation that you’re in without them.
Give an Action Plan
Do the hard part for them and go ahead and decide a solution for yourself. If you tell them what you want from them all they need to do is approve your request. Simple as that. Tell them exactly what it is you want them to do rather it be to call you to discuss options or put a loan on hold for a little while.
See a Financial Coach
Everyone needs a good editor and a financial coach can be yours for your hardship letter. They can review it for you to make sure that you made your point. They can also check it for any big grammatical or spelling errors.
So, you know what to write but how do you write it? Your letter needs to follow this specific structure:
- Describe the Hardship – You should use the first paragraph of the letter to introduce yourself and tell them about the situation that you’ve found yourself in. You should also use this paragraph to express your interest in getting help from the creditor.
- Your Response to Said Hardship – Once you’ve described your hardship you’ll move on to your response to the hardship in the next paragraph. This is where you’ll tell them what you’ve done or doing to try and resolve the problem yourself. It’s easy to make light of your situation in this section. Make sure that you don’t do that and instead use the paragraph to support your need for help.
- State the Goal – Your third paragraph is your goal. It’s where you’ll be telling the creditors exactly what it is you need them to do for you. Let them know your willingness to work with them to find a solution that will fit both of your needs.
- Enclosures – Your last paragraph is your closer. It will have the basic “thank you for your time and I hope to be able to work together to fix the problem” message. You’ll also want to close things off by providing documentation that matches up with your claims.
Everyone falls into financial hardship at some point in their lives. It’s nothing of which to be ashamed. By writing a hardship letter you’ll be able to get back on your feet if the creditor approves your request. Take your life back from your debt.