This is usually where it starts for a lot of people. The last straw. Your wakeup call. When you realize you can’t pay your bills. It’s often a scary experience, you feel anxious, unable to sleep at night, you may feel lonely and embarrassed wondering how you let yourself get into this situation.
I’m sorry if you’re currently feeling this way as I’ve felt this before and it’s one of the worst feelings to have but I promise you there’s hope. And if you’ve come across this post and you’re not in this situation these steps will also absolutely help you be able to save more for your future if you haven’t already done these.
Create a Budget
The first step you need to take is to create a budget. You won’t be able to get out of this mess without knowing where all your money is going. This includes everything, even that 99 cent cup of coffee.
After you have created your budget you will need to figure out how much you need to afford your current bills. Whether you may like this or not you will need to cut costs somewhere from your budget.
You will find that when creating your budget you may be spending a little bit more in certain areas that you could be. For me, this was eating out. I found out that I was spending more than my mortgage payment at restaurants or fast food because it was just convenient. Well, if I wanted to get through this and be able to pay my bills I was going to have to suck it up and lower my spending in that category. Plus, it’s healthier to plan and prepare your food at home.
Negotiate Your Bills
Many companies are willing to negotiate your bill with them. I’ve done this successfully with both my cell phone and cable provider before. When my bill got to the point where I thought it was way too expensive for what I got I called the provider up. Sometimes simply explaining your problem that your bill is too high is enough and they offer to reduce your bill. Sometimes I’ve had to let them know that the cost is too much and I might have to cancel my service with them and then they offer me a reduced price.
Medical bills are another bill that you can negotiate. Many hospitals will create a payment plan based on how much you’re able to afford. My father had a several thousand dollar debt from an ambulance ride that his insurance didn’t cover, he was really stressing over this bill but he called up the company and they were willing to take $10 per month payments from him.
Bottom line, it doesn’t hurt to call the company to see if they’re willing to work with you. Most times they are.
If you’re still coming up short on your bills think about selling some things to make some extra money. If you were looking to declutter and purge some of your extra stuff this could motivate you to get it done. I really enjoyed Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. The book is really helpful with your decluttering process. It helps you to identify things that bring you joy and things that do not and you get rid of the things you do not find joy in.
When you find all the things that you’d like to purge then you can start listing them for sale. You can try eBay, yard sales, selling on local Facebook groups, or even Craigslist. Just be very careful and plan to meet at a public place if you’re selling through places like Craigslist or Facebook.
If you haven’t read my post on Why You Should Have a Side Hustle, check it out! If you’re in debt and are looking to pay it off quickly having a side hustle can really help you with that. Take your current interests and skills and learn to make money on the side with it. Some people have actually made more money doing their side hustle than their day job. How amazing is that?! Doing something that you love.
Just remember, when paying your bills, pay the most important bills first. Food and shelter are the most important, this includes utilities. Then comes transportation to and from work and any childcare expenses. Your job is very important right now and you wouldn’t want to do anything to jeopardize it. Then comes any secured debt. If you’re over 30 days past due on secured debt you run the risk of getting your collateral repossessed. The least important are your unsecured debts. You do not, however, want to ignore those for too long because if those debts become charged off you have the risk of the creditors filing a judgment against you and you may have your wages garnished until what is owed is paid off.