What are the steps to take if you can't pay your bills? It's scary when you realise that you don't have enough money to meet the bills. You want to bury your head in the sand and pretend that nothing's wrong. But that won't help at all. So what should you do? Here are some steps to take if you can't pay your bills …
1. Contact the Company
The first of the steps to take if you can't pay your bills is to get in touch with the company. It's important to do this rather than pretend that the problem will go away - it won't. Tell them that you're having problems paying the bill, and ask them what help they have available for people in your situation. They may be more amenable than you think, and there can be help for people with problems like disabilities.
2. Get the Full Picture
Sit down and work out what's going on. Make a list of all your bills, and make sure you haven't left anything out. You need to know exactly what the situation is, how much you owe, when the bills are due and what money you have coming in. Is there anything that you could cancel to help you cover your bills?
3. Plan of Action
The next step is to draw up a plan of action. Who can you speak to for advice? What are you going to do to get the funds so that you can pay the bills? Can you get a second job, do overtime or apply for a better job? How are you going to build up an emergency fund? Some of these steps will help in the long term, which is important if you're not going to be in the same situation again.
4. Check Your Entitlement
Check if you're entitled to any financial assistance. There are programs that may help you pay your rent, or you may be able to apply for a grant to help with bills. If you're studying, your college may have hardship grants. Or perhaps you are entitled to benefits that you're not receiving.
5. Spending Habits
If your spending habits are getting you into trouble, it's time to turn over a new leaf. Draw up a budget and be firm with yourself. Bills may be boring, but they come first, so cut your discretionary spending (things like clothes and vacations). It's better to do without fun things like nights out if it means that you don't have the stress of wondering how you're going to meet your bills.
You should also prioritise the more urgent bills. Utilities and your mortgage or rent are most important. So if you can pay those, then do. Contact the other companies to say that you're having difficulties and offer a payment schedule to show that you're willing to pay off the bill. You can also ask for an extension to give you more time, if you know that you'll have money coming in soon.
7. Seek Help & Advice
Finally, there is help out there, so don't panic. Talk to debt charities, consumer charities and the companies you owe money to. You need to take control of the situation; that is the way you will get out of these difficulties.
It's very worrying when you don't know how you're going to pay the bills, and it happens to pretty much everyone at some point. The key to dealing with it is to take control and take action. What is your biggest financial weakness?