Need Help Paying Bills? Tips to Stay Current
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If you’re having trouble affording your expenses and could use some help paying bills, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed about your money. But rest assured that you’re not alone, and lots of resources exist to guide you to a better financial position.
With the right tools and money management approach, you may be able to get back on track on your own. Simply knowing where your money goes each month, and setting specific and realistic goals, can have helpful benefits.
Budgeting Made Easier
It’s common to dislike budgeting. Tracking where your money goes can bring up feelings of guilt or shame or make you feel overwhelmed, and limiting how much you spend can feel restrictive. Also, it’s easy to tell yourself that any money that doesn’t get spent on bills will go straight to your savings — only to have nothing left at the end of the month to save.
One technique you can try is reverse budgeting, which helps guide your money toward savings goals rather than spending. Write down your monthly take-home pay, and then determine how much you want to be saving once bills have been paid – it might be $25, $100, $500, the amount is up to you. Then subtract what you need to cover regular expenses, like rent or mortgage payments, utilities, transportation costs, food, and other necessities. To help you deliver on the savings goals, set up automatic transfers from your checking account into savings and investing accounts so you can meet your short- and long-term goals. Then you can spend the rest of the money however you’d like.
Reverse budgeting ensures that your bills get paid and that you set aside some savings. And since you can freely spend whatever’s left, you can eliminate some of the guilty feelings that come with the occasional splurge.
There also are apps and websites like Mint and YNAB that help automate the budgeting process, and these can be less manual as well as provide real-time, in-the-moment feedback about spending and saving progress.
What to Do If You Need Help Paying Bills or Managing Debt
If you have debts and you can’t afford the monthly repayment amounts, the first place to start is calling your credit cards and banks and explaining your situation. They often work with people who need help paying bills or are dealing with financial difficulties. They may work with you to create a more manageable repayment plan.
What won’t work is ignoring the debt. One of the possible outcomes of this is late fees and interest adding up and make the overall amount due even larger. Your credit history may also be at risk, as well. Show that you’re serious about making payments and you may be able to start a repayment program that can help get you back on track.
Programs do exist to help people who are having trouble with credit card payments, medical bills, housing payments, student loans and more. Here are some organizations that may be able to assist you:
If you’re overwhelmed by debt, you can seek help from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).
Many government organizations and charities have programs to assist people with housing costs, debt payment and more.
Make Paying Bills a Priority
Unexpected expenses or job loss can it make tough to stay on top of your bills. By creating a realistic budget — and seeking more help if you need it — you have a better chance of repaying your debts, or staying out of debt in the first place.
While it’s not an enjoyable task, changing your mindset – if only temporarily – about what’s a necessity and what’s a “fun” expense can put you quickly on track to financial stability. It may feel like dining out once a week is needed, but if you were to cut back to once a month, even for a few months, you could put that money toward paying down a bill or stockpiling money in a savings account for a rainy day, and then get back to the norm once you’re in a better place.
Don’t be ashamed to deal with your financial struggles head-on. You can resolve your issues more quickly, gain peace of mind, and be in a stronger financial position the next time an unexpected bill comes your way.
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