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Paying bills is stressful, and when you fall behind it’s like the world is sitting on your chest!
I remember when I was no longer able to make my car payment in addition to my other financial responsibilities and swearing I was a failed parent.
If you’re anything like me, you feel as though you’re slowly sinking down a dark hole, but I’m here to pull you out! I figured out how to get caught up on bills and you can too.
NEGOTIATE A PAYMENT PLAN
First things first, we don’t want you sitting in the dark because your lights got cut off or watching your car get dragged away by the repo man.
Contact your lender and/or service provider as soon as possible to get set up on a payment plan or to negotiate a lower payment.
This shows that you are willing to take accountability for your past-due account which in turn makes them more willing to work with you.
Lenders and service providers may allow your payments to be reduced for a specific length of time when experiencing financial hardships.
This gives you time to catch up and eliminates the risk of your possessions being taken. With your monthly bill reduced, you have more money to apply to your other financial obligations.
When I fell on hard times, I called my car loan lender and advised that I was unable to afford my monthly payments.
After inquiring about all available options, I was able to get the payments lowered by $100 for six months which helped me catch up on the rest of my bills.
Although this lengthened the term of the loan, it was well worth it. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to get back on track.
CUT AND REDUCE EXPENSES
You knew this was coming so make like Elsa and let it go! If you don’t have a budget yet, this needs to be the day you create one. Like now!
I have a post that is perfect for budgeting beginners here, but you’ve got to be able to narrow down what is coming in and what is going out.
Guessing or trying to keep a mental note of your finances is a recipe for disaster and will put you in an even deeper hole.
List everything you owe
When creating your budget or “financial plan”, list everything you owe first! Then, write down all of the essential expenses that you pay for regularly.
These expenses will be those that are absolutely necessary such as your electric bill and rent/mortgage.
All other expenses that aren’t needed but paid for regularly should be written last. This makes it easier to determine what can kick rocks. These changes do not have to be permanent, but right now all of your money should be used with specific intent.
Expenses to cut/reduce:
- Dining out
- Phone plans
- Apartment rentals
If you struggle to grasp the concept of budgeting, I recommend grabbing my Budget Boss guide in order to learn the simple strategies that keep your finances in order.
TRACK YOUR EXPENSES
It’s definitely not the most exciting thing to do, but it’s extremely important to know how much you’re actually spending.
Oftentimes we have money leaks that are sinking the boat but have no idea until we hit rock bottom!
To track your spending, gather your last three bank statements from all financial institutions. Assign each transaction to a category from your budget.
For example, if you see “McDonald’s” then you know that belongs to your food category.
When you’re done, add all related transactions from each statement together and compare the amounts to what you’ve actually budgeted for. If you’re spending more, evaluate the importance of the type of expense to determine if you lack discipline or have just set an unrealistic amount.
To make this part easy I recommend using the free money app Personal Capital! You can link all of your bank accounts (including loans, 401k, etc.) and it will track your spending for you. Check out my review here to learn more about the features.
Related posts to check out next!
I know that the thought of carrying around cash screams Stone Age but just hear me out.
It’s incredibly easy to blindly swipe a credit/debit card without taking your available balance into consideration. Why? Because you can’t see how much money you have remaining.
Then, when you log into your bank account you’re wondering what the heck happened to all of your money. Since the transaction is happening on the backend it’s a lot easier to downplay the cost so you swipe and the rest is history.
With cash, however, you’re physically seeing the effects your purchases have on your money.
If something costs $14 and you fork over a $20 bill then you’re left with scraps. Seeing that $20 transform into $6 is enough to make anyone’s eye twitch, which causes you to second guess making the purchase.
Ever since I started using the cash envelope system with my budget I’ve actually been coming under budget by at least $70 which never happened before.
The benefits of using cash envelopes:
- They curb your spending. Remember spending hurts.
- It’s easier to make sure you’re staying on budget. Literally, all you have to do is pop the envelope open and count how much money is remaining.
- There are no overdraft fees! We all have screw-ups in life but with the bank, you’re getting charged for your uh-ohs.
- You’re more intentional with spending. To keep as much money in your envelopes for as long as possible, you begin thinking your transactions through and evaluating their importance.
INCREASE YOUR INCOME
If you’ve cut and reduced all you can and you’re still not able to get caught up on bills then you need more money.
Plain and simple, no gimmicks needed.
Now, before you throw your phone screaming that you’re too busy and have no time, this doesn’t always require you to pick up a part-time gig. It’s 2019, and the ways to earn extra cash on your own schedule are endless.
Plus, if you have time to scroll through this post and/or social media then chances are you can find time to bring in more dough if it’s truly worth it to you.
Just squeezing out 30 minutes to an hour a few days out of the week is all it takes.
I wrote a post on 10 easy ways to earn extra money from home, but here are a few side hustles that I’ve found to be the most rewarding:
- Selling thrift/unwanted items on eBay- If you’ve got trash bags filled with clothes or unused items sitting in your storage room that you swear no one will want then you’re sitting on money! When I was low on income, anything that didn’t serve me purpose got listed on eBay. By doing this, I was able to rake in up to $150 per month just by listing what I already had!
Many have found success in purchasing secondhand name-brand items and listing them for a higher price online. It proves to be a pretty lucrative side-hustle that doesn’t require a lot of time!
- Offer freelancing services- If you’re a pretty good writer, proofreader, graphic designer, or whatever, then people are looking to pay you for your services! There are hundreds of sites that recruit freelancers. Customers request services, such as logo design, and if you’re assigned then you get paid! Most assignments can be accepted whenever you’re up to offering your services which means you work on your own time.
Best freelancing sites:
Writer4hire - I freelanced for this site and made up to $400 a month in extra money!
Additional related post: 11 Best Ways to Make Money on the Side – Earn Thousands!
Figuring out how to get caught up on bills can seem like a never-ending journey, but with the right strategies and discipline, you can get yourself back on track. Or better, you can get ahead financially! The best tip of all is to believe that you can do it and don’t accept anything less than success.
RESOURCES I'M LOVING!
- Rakuten. Why not get paid to purchase the things you were going to anyway? Shop as usual, whether online or in-store and earn up to cashback from your favorite stores! Here's $30 to get started.
- Ibotta. Ibotta is a free cashback app that supports 276 stores such as Walgreens, Kroger, and Walmart! I've earned over $100 so far just by buying groceries. Start earning now!
- Self. Self offers you a secure way to build credit by using your own money! You apply for a loan, pay it back in 12-24 months, each payment builds your credit and savings, and at the end you get your money back with established credit history! Check it out here.