How to Catch Up When You’re Behind on Bills
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How to Catch Up When You’re Behind on Bills

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Just when you thought everything is smooth sailing, then comes a huge bump in the road. An Social media of stressed out woman working on bills with text first steps to take when behind on billsunscheduled car repair or a medical expense can set you back in your finances. Next thing you know you’re neck deep in debt, and this is not a place you want to be in. So the question is how to catch up when you’re behind on bills?

At some point, we’ve all been there—behind on bills. Credit card dues and outstanding loans make money tight, and it can get overwhelming. It only takes one unexpected bump in the road, and you can get neck deep in debt.

Regardless of your financial situation, bills are a reality. It comes with the territory of living independently and a parcel of adult life.

As an adult, society expects you to meet the mundane demands of paying off the amounts due. But it’s not as easy as it seems. Getting back on track after incurring debts may be too challenging.

But there is a way out.

Are you behind on bills and want to get back on track?

Looking for a plan to get you out of your financial situation?

If you are drowning in loans, debt, and credit card bills, this article offers tips to help you keep your head above water. Read on.

Steps To Catch Up When You’re Behind on Bills

Catching up on your payments?

You’re not alone.

Did you know around 31 percent of adults in the U.S. are “struggling to get by” or “just getting by”? This was revealed in a 2015 survey on the economic well-being of U.S. households conducted by the Federal Reserve.

Being behind on bills is not fun. It can be very stressful and can affect other aspects of your life.

Fortunately, there is a way out of it. While things may seem difficult and the situation is hopeless, all it takes is knowing where to start. This article will help you get started on your exit plan toward freedom from financial distress.

So let’s begin.

1. Organize

If you have a steady stream of income every day, you’re probably wondering where all your money went, right? When asked this question, can you guess what’s the common answer for most people?

“I don’t know.”

A lot of us don’t know where our money went.

If you’re like most people, a big chunk of your monthly income goes to the basic necessities. And with kids, that’s an even bigger chunk. There are also the usual disbursements for the electricity and water bills, house payments, and car expenses. You’ll also need to pay the creditors.

It can be a difficult situation. But it’s entirely up to you to change it. This begins by accepting your reality and acknowledging that you need to do something to improve your predicament.

Take control and get organized. Sit down, grab a pen and paper, and jot down all the details of your payables. This will give you a better view of what you need to tackle.

2. Seek an Extension

Image of professionals standing up in meeting shaking handsWhen you realize you won’t meet your financial obligations as they become due, you might want to consider seeking an extension for its payment. Pick up the phone and speak with your lender about your situation.

Discuss your situation and the likelihood that you may not be able to make the payment. Request for a payment scheme that’s mutually beneficial.

If you have already missed one or more payments, you should still get in touch with your lender and discuss viable terms.

In both instances, always be nice when speaking with your lender. While it can be stressful to be in financial distress, it pays to be courteous and not to be frustrated when things don’t go as you wish they would. The lender’s representatives are more likely to empathize if you are calm and respectful.

3. Come Up with a Plan of Action

Now that you’ve written down the details of your payables and discussed the payment terms with your lenders, it’s time to create a plan of action, focusing on the due and overdue payments and, more importantly, the essentials.

These high-priority expenses should always be on top of your list every month. Shelter, food, and utilities must come first. Never risk losing your home or going hungry; it will only make matters worse to an already unfortunate debt situation.

4. Reevaluate Your Needs and Other Priorities

Your home and vehicle cost money. If a smaller home or car is enough to meet your needs, perhaps consider downsizing them. While it can be a difficult decision to let go of something you’re used to, this move can help you get back on track faster.

Give it some thought and evaluate your options and finances. Get your objectives in line with what you can afford and what you’re willing to concede.

When your home’s expenses are keeping you strapped for cash, you may want to consider moving into a smaller house. If selling your home is too extreme, you can rent it out at a rate higher than that you will pay for a rented unit. Not only will you get rent money; you also have extra, which you can use to cover other monthly expenses.

Owning a car entails costs. To maintain your vehicle in good running condition, you will need to spend money on its repairs and upkeep. You might want to consider opting for a more affordable vehicle with lower monthly payments or maintenance cost.

If you’re thinking about giving up your vehicle, you’ll be glad to know there are alternatives to car ownership. There’s carpooling and public transportation. Or you could switch to a healthier option, which is walking or riding a bike.

5. Make a Budget

After considering the essentials, create a budget, focusing on the debts. What are the accounts that you’re far behind? What are the payables that cost you more money after taking into account the interest? Are there debts that can be paid off quickly?

Once you input the numbers, make a system that will help you identify what other expenses to tackle. When doing a list of other monthly expenditures, ask yourself “Do I need this?”

Do you eat out often? Have a newspaper or magazine subscription that you seldom read? Or do you go out for drinks too frequently? How about the cable; do you have it but seldom watch TV?

Figure out what you need and what you can take off your monthly expenses. It can be difficult to identify which ones to remove from your usual conveniences, but every little bit counts when you’re struggling to keep up with your financial situation.

6. Find Avenues for Extra Income

For many individuals, this is not an available option. This is true for the typical 9-to-5 people who are dog-tired when they come home after a hectic day at work; they may not have the energy to go to another place of work.

So why not take the hustle online? All you need is a decent computer and good internet connection, and you’re all set. There are wonderful money-making opportunities that you can find online.

From writing jobs to doing Pinterest work, you can work from home and be with your family and still earn extra moolah. Find your hustle and earn to meet your obligations.

7. Hide the Credit Cards

This statement needs further qualification. Credit cards are handy when you need to buy groceries for the week. However, it is a convenient mode of paying for the essentials. Other than that, put your credit cards away.

With your credit cards nearby, it can be tempting to buy the next thing you’ll see; whether it’s online, featured on TV, or as you stroll in the department store. Unless it is absolutely essential for your day-to-day life, you need to break the habit of impulsive buying.

If you’re an impulse buyer and you’re struggling to pay off your debts, your best option is to hide your credit cards. Ask a loved one to store away your credit cards, giving it back to you when it’s time to buy the important stuff.

8. Live Within Your Means

With that thought, try not to keep up with the latest trend. You don’t need to buy a new iPhone or get caught up with the fashion fad. Your spending should be commensurate with your means, leaving room for savings and what-not.

These frugal living tips will help you catch up on your bills fast.

9. Prepare for an Emergency or Unexpected Expenses

Always have an emergency fund on stand-by. When you’re behind on bills, unexpected expenses can deliver a devastating blow to your finances. Before this happens, set up a purse to answer for any unscheduled expenditures; this will cushion the jolt.

As they say, save for the rainy days. Put away a certain amount every week to answer for any financial emergency that may occur in the future. If you can’t stash away money for this week, make it up in the next.

Eventually, you will get caught up with the routine and develop it into a healthy money habit. This sacrifice will pay off in the future.

10. Stick with Your Plan of Action

Financial situations don’t usually get turned around fast. Sometimes it takes months or even years to see a considerable difference in circumstances. But if you stick with the plan, before you know it, you may see an improvement in your predicament.

Focus on your goal and the long-term consequences. Concentrate on cutting back on the expenditures while increasing your hustle for more income. Stick with it and you’ll notice some improvement in due time.

As you earn more and spend less, you will be able to make debt payments timely. Seeing the debt balance decrease week after week can be invigorating. And the more you stick to this routine, the more you’ll develop wise money habits. There is less propensity to spend on things that aren’t essential.

11. Celebrate Small Victories

Are you seeing the balance of your payables go down? Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. You’re doing an awesome job, and you deserve a celebration for your victories no matter how big or small it may be.

Set milestones and objectives. Every time you complete a stage in your journey toward freedom from financial distress, treat yourself. It pays to be motivated, and this is one way to keep the vigor burning.

Reward yourself with a hearty meal at your favorite restaurant or buy that dress or shoes that you’ve always wanted. It’s a good strategy to giving yourself the push so you can tread on to your objectives.

12. Stay on Your Toes

Saving more and spending less is too broad a statement. But it’s all about using your money wisely. Stay on top and in control of your finances. Keep an eye on the bills and pay them on time. Get a second (or third) job when you have to.

Never get too comfortable. When you’re behind on bills, every day can be a challenge, and you’ll need to hustle to keep afloat.

13. Seek Help

There is no shame in seeking help. Let’s face it, you don’t know everything, but some people do. Your family and friends may know how to get you back on track. Or you could approach a professional to discuss your goals.

14. Don’t Panic

Face reality and accept your predicament. But know that it is not the end of the world. You’re not alone; there are a lot of people who are in a similar situation.

Yes, being behind on bills sucks, but the important thing is that you have accepted your financial situation and you are doing something to improve your plight. Sure, your credit score has taken a huge hit and you’ll probably not be able to borrow money from banks and other financial institutions, but things will get better.

Look at it with a silver lining; you’re going to be wiser and savvier as you deal with your finances in the future. And who knows it will be your turn to mentor another person in the future as he or she is under similar financial distress you are.

Are you behind on bills? What did you do to stay afloat and get back on track?

Share your tips or thoughts in the comment section below.

Social media graphic of stressed woman looking at bills with text what to do when behind on bills Social media graphic of calculator, notebook and cash with text what to do when behind on bills how to catch up when you are behind on bills

McKinzie Bean
McKinzie is a mom of two, and a personal finance enthusiast. She loves teaching other moms how to save money, make money, and take control of their financial situation. She has started five profitable businesses and in college, she double-majored in Financial Planning and Psychology. You may have seen her in publications like Forbes, The US Chamber of Commerce, Yahoo Finance,, The Penny Hoarder, & more.

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