What To Do When You Can’t Pay Your Bills

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What to Do if you Can't Pay your Bills -- Tips and ideas to help you get out from under the mound of bills and gain control of your finances.

If you can’t cover your expenses it can be stressful.  You might have a loss of income, emergency that cost more than you anticipated, a budget that missed a category or two.  Regardless of your situation, the bills have to be paid.  You can’t escape it.

It can be a very stressful time when you find yourself in this situation.  The best thing to do is to fix things and make them better.  Here are some simple tips you can follow to get back on track.


When the bills are overwhelming, it might seem like the best solution would be to climb into your bed, cover up and go to sleep (hoping it will all go away).  Sadly, that will not work.  The bills will be waiting for you…and will actually get worse.

Instead of hiding from it, face it head on.  Take responsibility and do what you can to pay the bills.  If you can’t cover the bill, you certainly can not afford late fees, or even worse, a hit to your credit report.  Doing so will just make matters worse.  Own it and vow to change it.


Gather your bills.  Then, make a list of all of your accounts and the amounts you owe.  You can this old school with paper and pencil or you can go high tech and create a spreadsheet.

Make sure you include past due amounts and late fees.  Your bills might include utilities, cell phone, mortgage, credit cards, student loans, insurance, etc.  Don’t forget anything.

Now that you have the bills, add the total to find out how much you owe.


Before you figure out how to pay first, it might be good to make some calls to see which companies might be more willing to work with you.

Make sure you are honest and do not lie.  Let them know your situation and ask them if they might be able to offer either an extension or maybe another helpful idea.

Most will want to help as they understand that things happen and there are times when you can’t cover your bill.  In most instances they would rather help you out than lose you as a customer.

Once you have the new terms, make sure it is all in writing.  This could be via a follow up email or something sent to you by regular mail.



The honest truth is if you have too many bills, but not enough money that you need more money.  Take a look around the house to see if there are things you can sell.  It might be an old piece of furniture, baby items or even toys.

You might also see if there is a way you can make additional cash.  It might mean a second job or even offering your services.  If you are a teacher, maybe you could do tutoring.  You might consider lawn work, baking, babysitting – the ideas are endless.



If you’ve done all of the above and find that you are still unable to cover your expenses, then you will need to determine who will be paid right now and which bills will have to wait.

The most important bills to pay first should be your utilities such as electric, water and gas.  These are needs and are necessary to life.

Once those bills are paid, the next ones you need to consider are the debts which are secured.  These include vehicle loans and your mortgage.  Since there is collateral on these loans, it means they can take them back for non-payment.  In order to avoid a repossession or foreclosure, it is very important that these get paid.

The final bills to pay are items such as your student loans, credit cards and other debts.  Sure, not paying these on time may hurt your credit, but there are things you can always do later to build that back up.

By paying your bills in order of importance, you will make sure your needs are met first, which is most important.



Chance are you hated this situation and want to do what you can to prevent it from happening again.  This means you need a plan.  And, by plan, I mean — You Need A Budget.  Not just a random piece of paper with a list of bills, but an actual planned and written budget.


Hopefully, these tips will help you get back on track with your finances. Remember that not getting your bills paid is not the worst thing that can happen to you.  Sure, it feels like it in that moment, but in all honesty, there are worse things that could happen to you.

Know that you are not alone and that you can definitely take the necessary steps to prevent it from happening again.  With these ideas  you can gain control of your finances.