Here are 5 things you can do if you’re behind on your bills…
1. Take an inventory of where you are.
Sometimes, the picture you’ve painted for yourself is WORSE than the truth. Have a single list of all that needs to go out to another company in a particular month. Make a similar list with your regular income sources, too. If you really want to get advanced, you can deal with other expense categories, like groceries and gas for your vehicle. Then you’re close to having a honest-to-goodness budget.
2. When you’re in a hole, stop digging.
If you’re not making ends meet now, you need to put a freeze on any new expenses. Period. This is often the hardest part in our lives right now. For example this means that even though our car is basically 110% of the way to deceased, we cannot take on a new car payment.
Mortgage electricity, and water. No matter what, those are key. I have heard of people being afraid of collection agencies so much so that, they tackled their medical debts and in doing so did not pay their water bill. Your job when you’re behind is to prioritize. Decide, every month, where the money is going. Maybe right now, it doesn’t cover everything. But if it can keep a roof over your head and sanitary conditions under that roof, you can work from there. Take your list of expenses every month and rank them
4. Call and discuss your options.
Here’s the sad-but-true fact: Most companies are ONLY willing to negotiate with you when you’re behind. Hate it or love it about the financial system, but if you are behind, don’t be afraid to use what leverage you have. Explain that you realize you’re behind and you’d like to take steps to return your account to good standing, but have limited cash available. Ask about payment options, hardship plans, and any other measures that can prevent your account from becoming further delinquent.
5. Make a plan.
This is where we put everything together. It looks something like this: Take your updated list of expenses, prioritized and including any new agreements you reached with particular companies. Put them in the order they’ll be paid each month, accounting for all possible income.
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