In the debt-free community, a lot of people shy away from sharing stories about the mistakes they’ve made. To me, that’s toxic behavior. By not sharing where you fell short, you may be taking the information away from someone who really needed it.
Recently, we fell behind. Things were getting harder to keep up before my husband took on a full-time job. My gas bill somehow stacked up to more than $300 and other bills were starting to pile up too. I knew once he started his job we would be able to catch up on everything fairly quickly. The end of the harder times was on the horizon, but it got me thinking about what we need to do in order to really catch up. If you’ve fallen behind, don’t worry. It happens to the best of us. Here’s what you can do.
1. Pay the Most Important Bills First
Assess the bills you’ve fallen behind on and decide what needs to be paid first. These things would typically be necessities: rent/mortgage, utilities, food. Make sure you get your basic needs addressed first. Once you’ve done that you can move on to the other money you may owe.
2. Call Creditors and See How They Can Work With You
When it comes to debt payments, most companies are willing to work with you on a plan to pay off your account. If you have a credit card and have fallen behind, give them a call and explain your situation. Usually, they will be able to work out a payment plan that better suits your current needs or push your payment date back so that you have more time. This can be said for loans, some utilities, phone bills, etc. You’ll never know if you don’t ask and it could make all the difference in how you bounce back from falling behind.
When you are ready to tackle your debt again, read more about the Debt Snowball Method here.
3. Set a New Budget
Once you’ve caught up on everything that you’ve fallen behind on, set a new budget. Obviously, the last one wasn’t working for you. Not to mention, you may have had some significant changes that impact your earnings, spending, etc. Don’t forget to include budget lines for any of the subscription services you have, entertainment/fun money, and recurring costs like car maintenance.
4. Get More Money in Savings
After you have set a budget that works for you, make sure you have enough left in your plan to stash some money away. Having savings to fall back on is a huge help when you fall behind or are having any kind of financial trouble. You always know you have that money in savings to take care of what you need in the mean time.
5. Address Personal Needs
Chances are, if you’ve been behind for a little while, you’ve been ignoring a lot of your own personal needs. Take a small amount of your budget and spend money doing something you enjoy. This can help you feel more positive and motivated about your financial journey.
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Amanda Blankenship is the Director of Social Media for District Media. In addition to her duties handling everything social media, she frequently writes for a handful of blogs and loves to share her own personal finance story with others. When she isn’t typing away at her desk, she enjoys spending time with her daughter, husband, and dog. During her free time, you’re likely to find her with her nose in a book, hiking, or playing RPG video games.
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