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What To Do If You Can't Pay Your Bills On Time

carefulcents profile picture
Carrie SmithGuest Blogger
July 08, 2016 · 2k Views

Life is messy and so are your finances. Some months you’ll have plenty of money to cover the bills and the next month you’ll wonder how to pay rent on time. In the midst of emergency costs like fixing a car or losing a job, bills still have to get paid. However, knowing this fact doesn’t make it any less easier to deal with. Here are the steps to take if you find that you can’t pay all your bills on time.


1. Make a list of all your bills and accounts.

Source: US News

This step is the hardest part in the process when trying to get a handle on your bills because you can no longer be ignorant of your financial standing. But don’t get discouraged, things will get better soon. It’s time to get out all your unopened bills and grab your account statements in order to make a list of everything that’s outstanding.

Make sure to gather up all your bills, including credit card statements, auto loans, utility bills, and insurance payments. Write down the details of each account such as, the company’s contact info (you’ll need that for the next step), how much you owe, the date it’s supposed to be paid, any late fees and interest rate if applicable. Add up the total balance owed for all accounts, take a couple deep breaths and then get to work.

2. Contact the companies you owe.

Source: Today

Not paying your bills on time seems to work for a while but you can’t keep ignoring them because they won’t go away. It’s better to fully embrace the situation and communicate honestly with both yourself and your creditors. Financial institutions are run by human beings, and often times you’ll find a customer representative who understands your situation and wants to help.

Don’t discount the effect of a simple phone call, it can help you discover what your options are. Some companies will be willing to work with you, but they won’t know you’re flexible if you don’t contact them as soon as possible.

3. Negotiate some breathing room.

Source: Office Sense

Once you’re ready to contact the companies you owe money to, remind yourself that you have options. Your goal is to negotiate some breathing room while being honest about your financial situation. Ask about the possibility of putting your bills on a payment plan, or if they will waive some of the late fees.

Perhaps the financial institution will allow you to skip a few payments in exchange for extending your loan’s term. Can they give you a better interest rate, even if it’s for a short time? It doesn’t hurt to ask, so make sure you cover all your bases when negotiating.

Use this checklist to find out your options:

  • Explore income-driven repayment plans

  • Ask about deferral or skipped payment options

  • Consider an installment plan (for taxes owed to the IRS)

  • Research federal assistance programs to help with your housing payment

  • See about hardship programs from credit card issuers

  • Find out about any charitable relief services for medical bills

4. Prioritize the essentials first.

Source: Union Cancun

When figuring out which bills to pay first, don’t let creditors or companies hassle you into making the wrong decision. Your money needs to stretch far but you don’t want to be without the basics, like electricity, food ,or transportation. Create a list of the essential bills and make a plan to pay those first.

If you find it hard to cover even the essentials, then perhaps you can apply for food stamps or housing assistance. Otherwise, you may want to consider lowering your overall cost-of- living by moving to a more budget-friendly city, selling your car and opting to ride a bike, or moving in with family and friends until you can get on your feet again.

5. Create a backup plan for the future.

Source: Weekly Today

Getting on a budget is key to staying on track financially and regaining control of your finances. Start working on a backup plan by stashing away just $5 or $10 a week into a separate savings account. Everyone has to start a savings habit somehow, so don’t discount the effect of small steps over time. As your budget gets used to saving small bits of money, you can increase the amount every week until you’re able to save up a good emergency fund.

Here are some other steps you can take to make sure you don’t fall into this money trap again in the future.

  • Start a budget using one of these popular finance apps

  • Put your money on autopilot with online bill pay and automatic savings transfers

  • Use micro-saving apps to save money without thinking

  • Work with an accountability partner, or expert, to stay on track with your budget

You may also want to consider credit counseling or debt management help as a way to wipe the slate clean and start with a fresh perspective. You don’t have to navigate your finances on your own, and there are legitimate companies who are out there just waiting to help and educate you.


carefulcents profile picture
Hi, I'm Carrie Smith! I'm a financial writer and small business expert who helps freelancers build client-based businesses through meaningful relationships. I have a background in small business accounting and taxes and recently won an award for Best Entrepreneurship Blog for my site,
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