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What To Do If You Can't Pay Your Bills

Updated on February 10, 2009

Many people are caught in a bad cycle of robbing Peter to pay Paul. They borrow money each month from one source in order to pay the minimum payments on other items. Or they use the cash they have to pay the minimum payments, and put all living expenses on the credit cards. At some point, something will usually happen that will cause the plan to come crashing down. So what do you do when you can't pay your bills?

The first thing to do is to stop spending money. You have to break the cycle at some point. Stop spending money and stop using the credit cards. Yes this will be hard; you will have to make some very tough decisions in the beginning. Make do with exactly what you already have for a few days while you sort through the mess.

Second write down every bill that comes into your house each month. Every debt you owe, every utility bill, etc. - write everything down. On one paper write down the basics that need to be covered each month - mortgage/rent, electric, heat, and water. These are absolutely necessary. There might be ways to reduce some of these later, but for now, these have to be paid every month, first. On another piece of paper list all the other bills that are either debt payments or are optional things (cable for instance). Write down the full debt owed, the interest rate and the minimum payment.

Once you have your bills written down, you need to decide on some other amounts. Obviously you need to eat every month. I am not talking steaks or Burger King here; I am talking the basics, the cheap stuff. You are in a desperate situation and you need to make some tough choices. In the beginning try to eat only what you have in the house for awhile while you get caught up on your bills. You do need to plan for food and gasoline purchases though, so decide on a minimum amount that you need for those each month and put them on the first piece of paper.

Now you have to decide the order in which to pay your bills, because if your world has come crashing down, then you probably don't have the money to pay them all. Everything on the first paper gets paid first. Everything on the second paper gets paid last. If you find out that by slashing your budget you can afford to make minimum payments on all of your debt that is great. You then have to decide on the correct order.

There are several ways to do that. You can pick the debt with the largest interest rate and pay it first or the debt with the highest balance and pay it first. I prefer to pay off the smallest debts first though. That might seem odd, but you will gain some traction very quickly this way. By putting extra towards the smallest debt first it will most likely be paid off quickly and you will have money freed up in your budget.

What if you can't make a minimum payment on all of your debts?  It is time to talk to the companies. If you have student loans you can see about getting them put into forebearance, which will usually allow you to take some time off from the payments (interest will accrue though). If you have credit card debt I would first call each company and ask for an interest rate reduction. Your best chance at this is before you are actually late on a payment. If you can get your interest rate reduced, then chances are your minimum payment will go down some and you might be able to afford it. If you can't get a lower interest rate and you can't make the payments, then you need to be upfront with them and work out a payment plan. Usually the account will be frozen at this point so that you can't charge anything else.

Some companies will be unwilling to work with you though. If you can't pay all of your bills, credit cards should be the last thing that does get paid because it is unsecured debt. Other types of debt are secured with something like a car and the company can come take it if you don't pay. So if you have to choose, pick an unsecured debt to not pay. I am not advocating that you don't repay your debt though, eventually you will have to pay them back, with interest and fees, but we are talking desperate times and trying to get back on track, so for awhile you might have to stop paying on some debts.

I haven't mentioned cars and car loans yet. These are tricky. Some people really need there car and have to have the loan to pay for it. You have to evaluate your situation. If you make $20,000 a year and have a $500 per month car payment, you need to sell the car ASAP because there is no way you can sustain that payment. If you have three cars, all with payments, sell one. If you have access to good public transportation seriously consider selling a vehicle. Desperate times call for drastic measures and everything needs to come up for reconsideration. You have to make changes and selling a car might be one of them that has to happen.

Once you have a budget in place and a plan for repaying your debt you need to figure out a way to make some extra money so that you can dig yourself out of this hole you find yourself in. Chances are good that you have been overspending. On what? Can you sell any of that now? Is there anything that you haven't even used yet that you could return? I would sell anything extra that you can find. I would try to bring in any extra income you could to get back on your feet.

If you do all of these things, the chances are good that you will be able to get your financial house back in order fairly quickly. Once you are back to being able to pay at least the minimum on all your bills it is time to work through a debt snowball and get everything paid off as quickly as possible. If you can make the hard decisions immediately and make some changes to help you will be able to stop the bad cycle you have found yourself in. You are making some lifestyle changes here and if you can stick with the plan then it won't be long before you will be doing great financially.


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Hi I desperately need advise. My husband and I have a house with a mortgage which we have never ever paid late. The house has maybe 20 k equity, if that. We also have a LOT of credit card debt, 15 different cards and debt totaling 76K as of yesterday on the cards. I am no longer able to work due to me becoming 100% disabled in February of this year with a neurological disease, I worked full time until last October and had a new job for just six days in February of this year. Anyway I applied for social security disability insurance and it was granted right away after seeing the SSA doctors but the payments don't start until you are disabled for 6 months. My husband has been disabled with MS since 1989 and on social security disability at just over $1200 a month. I haven't been able to pay most of our credit cards since April, and the only way I was able to keep paying them then was by having yard sales to keep the mortgage and utilities paid and with what little was left I was able to make payments on some of them. I can't pay ANY of them since May of this year. We DON'T own a car, we lease a 2012 vehicle. I HAD excellent credit, I never paid minimum on anything and was never, ever late on anything either. We will both be receiving social security disability as of Sept, but I know they cant touch that. Should I send a letter to them all stating the facts and that we can not pay? If I do that can they take my house from me? Our names are also on the mortgage and title to my Mothers house, although we only send in her payments, we have never paid it ourselves, my parents always did. I am so lost and confused as to what I should or should not do. I am getting up to 40 calls a day, I stopped answering them a month ago because even though they all know that I had filed for disability and was waiting for the decision it only would stop them for a day or two. Now I just read the caller ID and don't answer them. Can you please tell me should I send them all letters or does that make this nightmare even worse??? Please answer me ASAP as I am so stressed and this is only making my illness even worse :( By the way I am 57 and my husband is 62. Thank You!!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Hi jennifer check out my site thats related to your topic.

      Please email me back.




    • profile image

      Stellar Phoenix Review 

      5 years ago

      This content is spectacular! You certainly know how to keep a reader happy. Between your wit and your pictures, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost..haha) Excellent job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool! Stellar Phoenix

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      what you do? when you marrie a 70 year ld men, ssc it not enoug my salary is not o lot we can no pay our car , house we hve a chance to loose it after 25 years living on it, we can't get government help becouse own a house midle class has the worts. But I still hav faith in God that he will do something for me and my husban,

    • Missys Mom profile image

      Missys Mom 

      6 years ago

      I have given up all my credit cards and learned to pay cash for everything...the downside to this, I have now run completely out of money, I am out of a job, I cant pay anything off, all the bill companies are after me and I am being forced to sell my home to pay my debt off. The other drawback to this is that I will not get out of the sale what I put into my home and will most likely be left with nothing or next to nothing and I owe thousands (my own stupidity). I have learned my lesson but I will be paying this back for the rest of my life. I guess karma has come back to bite me in teh a**.

    • roxygurl464 profile image


      6 years ago from New Jersey

      Ugh, credit cards are the devil! I seriously had to learn the hard way that if I don't have the money in my bank account for something, it's better to just suck it up and do without. Great hub, thumbs up & shared!

    • monicamelendez profile image


      6 years ago from Salt Lake City

      Windy so sorry that you've had to go through all of that. I completely admire that you were current on your payments when you went into bankruptcy. That shows how much character you have!

      Julie my heart goes out to you.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Due to an incurable disease I am now on Social Security, thanks to Obamas Mortgage help program my mortgage is now 2/3 what it once was, my husband cant work full time as he is my sole carer, we only have basic outgoings - electric, mortgage etc. There is nothing we can cut back on. Our car is 15 years old and our elec bill is high because we live in a hot part of the country and being in heat over 70 degrees makes my symptoms bad. I only get 300 a month from the social security because I started to lose the use of my hands at 30 and didn't earn enough to get more. I cant file bankruptcy as we did that 5 years ago when my daughter broke her arm. Living this way for the resr of my life makes me so depressed, and my Multiple Sclerosis will only get worse as time goes on, If I didn't have my husband and daughter well... Please help us too!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      How can I pay off my debt on an accelerator program while I am on SSD and have no way of making any income. This disability is permanent. I am going to be 50 years old and see no hope to pay off the $30,000 in debt.. Please help!

    • profile image


      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Nice tips on saving money for pay your bills in time. It is a problem what to do if you can't pay your bills. I can say The first thing to do is to stop spending money and get rid of debt.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      So sorry you had to go through that.. best of luck

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      After being in my same little condo for 12 years I am actually upside down on it due to a HELOC loan I have. I ended up on Social Security Disability due to an illness I had fought for a very long time. SSD was no where near enough to pay my bills, so I took out my early Union Retirement, at 55, still it was half of what I would have gotten if I wanted till 65, still not enough, doctor payments, medication, nothing was going to keep me down but it all did... I had to admit defeat even my illness defeated me. I used up all my saving, cashed in my IRA retirement savings I had, even cashed in my little 3 grand college fund I had for my teen before she was college years, thank GOD MY ex had saved up for her college he makes over 125 grand so he can afford it. I’m thankful. I was robbing Peter to pay Paul. I only bought food, doctors and medicine and supplements as well as pet food and supplies, my 15 yr old cat has been a diabetic for 9 years... it was hard to live and help myself and my pets. After I robbed my saving and other savings I was DONE. I had run up my 3 cards to 900... a month MIN payments OMG my house under water so no EQ loan money to use either, they understandably STOPPED the 80 grand EQ I could have used.... my condo went down 80 grand in less than a year a total of 129 grand in EQ before this 2007 recession. I got back my tax return Feb 9th, I saw I actually only cleared less than 3200.00 bucks after all my deductions of med/dr/copays,dental/eye dr, I was defeated. All my savings GONE! NOT A PENNY to my name, my SSD check was the same as my condo payment, my HOA fee was the same as my early retirement check. I walked around in a daze more so then usual cuz my illness keeps me in a fog all the time anyway. I prayed SO HARD to our GOD for answers.. The next day I got GOD answer, but... NEVER IN A MILLION years would this 56 year old with 800-820 FICA score never been late on ONE PAYMENT IN my LIFE was going to see about filing bankruptcy. I had no other recourse I cant work, I am stuck on one fixed income, living in my small 980 sq foot condo.. I had no other choice.. What kills me if I knew I was going to file I wouldn't have made my Feb payments lol.. I actually went into bankruptcy with all my card and house payments up to date.. Who does that? LOL.. ME that’s who! I got my credit reports after filing BK and my FICA is STILL PRETTY GOOD at 690-710 after it says I was in bankruptcy. I protect my FICA all my life, I hope it pays off and I get my life back to normal, I don't see buying anything major at my age now.. I have a 12 yr old car that is just fine not working so where do I go? Can’t afford gas or to visit family. My illness keeps me home bound more of the time anyway. So see, some circumstances happen we cant control, Miss FICA anal woman here had to let go of control and lose her perfect FICA score.. But I can breathe again. ONE THING THAT RELLY PISSED ME OFF 3 years ago when I got my SSD check lump sum and paid one of my Chase cards 10 GRAND lump sum, guess how they repaid me? BY RAISING MY INTEREST rate 5 points OMG.. I’d NEVER LATE ever, paid off all but a few hundred and they RAISED MY RATE? I don't feel bad for them at all!!! bastards! That is my story.. its not all as easy as STOP SPENDING cuz using card is the only way I could buy food and doc copay's and ins premiums. NOT ALL CUT and dry. Funny thing is, I got a come buy a new car for 30 grand card a bankruptcy special they said, and its not from some fly by night dealer either.. so weird!! Wish you all good luck, its been years of rough times for me and many of you.. I hope you don’t have to go to those extremes… we all do what we have to.

    • profile image

      Surnjit Singh Bhogal 

      6 years ago

      just to let you know my brother was is debt for over 2 million now and committed suicide but if he really understood what he really had he was owing 2 million with assets worth 12 million and after the estate was settled the wife got 7 million in cash from the estate.she said she would give that 7 million to get her husband back and she put her money where her mouth was't and donated it all to charity. i don't know what to think she is now living in a small flat and trying to do what my brother was good at

    • Reves-diary profile image


      6 years ago from Dhaka

      This hub has been terrific for me. Many of us do face this problem often. Thanks for your informative and useful hub.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I always wonder what would happen if a large group of people got so sick of paying bills that they all rallied together and decided not to pay them anymore. Then gathered a large supply of weapons and prepared themselves to kill anyone who tried take their home and belongings away from them. Would the government truly kill them all, over some green paper?

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Don't hurt yourself and that goes for all of you It just means they have won. Look at it this way - alot of us don't have a partner and we are bordering on homeless. (I am) We are college educated, are underemployed (huge pay cut) and alone. If you are a single woman there is very little out there as far as help goes. I've worked my butt off my whole life but this economy has destroyed it all and I might lose my home. But I'm not going to give the bank the satisfaction of getting my life too. They don't deserve it! Try to find a second job (like I am) that you will enjoy even if it doesn't pay much. Just doing something you like will boost your spirits. The biggest problem for me is that there is no help for contract workers. 6 years of regular work - let go then no unemployment. You then live off your savings, your IRA to pay all your bills and then you are screwed like me. Be smart, and don't make the same mistakes I did. i should have stopped paying my credit cards two years ago. What a dumb decision. I owe the bank, the IRS, my mom, my cousin, my brother and it goes on and on. Hang in there...

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      It is truly tough out there for most people and it is sad that so many people are oblivious to it. You never know what will happen to you in the future. Years ago, my husband and I did not think that after we took out school loans that we would not earn enough money through our jobs together every month to pay them back. We believed that we would have a certain level of comfort and additional monies to use for other expenses. We both even had scholarships for college and are still drowning in debt from the choice to borrow money for school. I currently am paying religiously on my student loans- on-time every month. I'm trying to preserve my good credit score (which I have worked like a dog to keep up so I could purchase a home and new car someday), but am sincerely worried that as my payments go up, that my income won't (it hasn't increased and I am losing hope that it ever will by enough so I can pay off this debt). I am married and do not have children, but wish I could afford to have them. Everyday is another concern that my financial situation will not improve and I will never own a home (I'm currently renting an apartment and may need to the rest of my life if I cannot make more money). Instead of feeling hopeful and looking forward to a future with my husband, which is where I thought I'd be by this time, I am considering suicide. I don't know if this life I'm living is worth the fight or constant effort and worry. I am truly just a number. My dreams are dead and I am dead inside. I am concerned that I will get to the point where I cannot pay my bills anymore, which is why I read this article and the many comments...I cannot save money, because I am living paycheck to paycheck and the money that is saved goes towards car repairs (I have no car payment, thankfully, but have an older vehicle), rent and other necessities. I wish I could erase my past decisions, but they are forever with me, staring right back at me in the mirror every morning, everyday that I wake up again to face the morally-decaying world, my dead-end job, and this financial nightmare. The only good times are in my past and in my dreams now...The worry and constant stress is putting me in an early grave- unfortunately, I am looking more forward to dying than continuing with this fragile shell of a life and secretly hope that I'll die by natural causes soon, so I won't have to do it myself. I could try to do it myself, but I might fail and end up with huge medical bills. The cycle of worry never $top$ (stops).

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      By keeping an emergency cash fund, you protect yourself from life’s unknowns. You’ve got a safety net just in case something expensive happens.

    • profile image

      David Bacon 

      6 years ago

      Phew, Reading the article was tough. Reading the comments, by far, was worse.

      1 This kind of article can only be helpful to those who are in debt only because they are stupid, not because they don't make enough money. 2 Anybody who could not, without first reading this article, automatically take the steps herein, needs to be sterilized and forbidden from producing offspring. 3 Any of you idiots acting like this is profound insight, and that you are wise because you can verify the veracity of the article, Have my most profound and sincerest sympathy.

    • smiileyfacexo profile image


      6 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks for the useful advice. It's always good to write down your income and expenses weekly/monthly so you have an idea on the things to cut down.

    • E Padro profile image

      E Padro 

      6 years ago from United States

      Thanks for this hub. Your advice is appreciated. It's hard to deal with too many bills every month if your income is not enough. Cutting unnecessary expenses helps a lot.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great advice! Over twenty years ago I drank myself into a horrible financial situation. I had over $100,000 in debt and no job and I could not imagine ever climbing out of that hole. But I did, using many of the suggestions you have in this are absolutely correct that this requires some difficult decisions and...and....willingness to make those decisions. I remember some months when I looked at my disposable income after pre-arranged credit payments and I would have $40 to spend for the I divided that by 30 days and gave myself $1.33 to spend daily any way I wanted...and I stuck to it and today...I am debt free. It can be done but there is no quick fix and it requires a genuine desire to make it work...thumbs up and awesome.

    • nina64 profile image

      Nina L James 

      6 years ago from chicago, Illinois

      I'm finding myself in a similar situation to where I'm having to rob Peter to pay Paul. It may seem like I'm not being responsible when it comes to paying my bills; but some things must come before others. I need medicine for my diabetes, gas in my car to get back and forth to work, food on the table for my family. The people at Visa and Mastercard do not care if your family survives or not. As of right now, I only pay the bills that are pertinent to keeping my household above water. How is it that the banks can give us only an interest rate of less than 1% on our savings but the credit cards charge interest rates of 30% and above on our accounts? That's backwards!!!!! Our banking system is so messed up and we Americans are paying for it in bailouts to the different banks. Where's our bailout? Our taxpayer dollars is helping to pay for this mess!!!!!!! When will it end?

    • profile image

      Alberto Hull 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for the strategies you are sharing on this weblog. Another thing I would like to say is the fact that getting hold of copies of your credit history in order to check accuracy of any detail is one first motion you have to perform in credit score improvement. You are looking to cleanse your credit reports from destructive details problems that damage your credit score.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Sad State of Affairs when Our Soceity Won't Support its People, We could support Every person in financial Crissis just with the profits the banks make out of us, the Big customer and uselly the small customer in financial difficulty as well

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      The only solution is to make your bills an asset by making them working for you. You now can partner with utility and service providers and share with them profits. You can learn about this by visiting : http://www,

    • Jennifer profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      SickToMyStomach, I feel for you, I really do. But the last paragraph sums it up - you are giving in to other people's desires and it is hurting you financially, emotionally and physically. Yes, you can make your kids eat foods they don't like - I do it all the time. Otherwise they might never eat a vegetable.

      Yes you can get rid of cable - call the company and have them cut it off. Have you told your husband that for you to pay for cable means that you don't eat - anything?

      You do have choices. You can even opt out of a lot of that school stuff that comes home. I know it is easier said than done, but I have done it. Explain to the teacher that you can't afford it.

      Finally, have you looked into governement help? You spend your life paying into the system, so use it when you need it. Good luck!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      First: For the people who say "Cut up the credit cards" or "I don't use credit cards" : Good for you.

      Myself AND my spouse work and after mortgage, car, elec, gas, phone, water, there is no money left over. So to 'cut up credit cards' means no food or gasoline (which is needed to get to work btw).

      Second: For the people that say what a vicious cycle it is:

      I KNOW ! That's why I'm sick to my stomach. But I can't get out of it. It sickens me to pay interest and to know that a $20.00 item will cost god knows how much by the time I'm finished paying my credit cards if that ever happens.

      When you have kids there are certain things you just cant say NO to. It's that simple.

      The person who said to 'avoid taking a loan you can't pay back' - well that's common sense. But what does "avoid" mean, not eat????? You must be in a much better place than I am and good for you. I wish no ill-will.

      I think for people like that, when they say 'avoid' they mean for a nicer car or a piece of furniture or a cleaning person or a vacation (albeit cheap).

      Anyway, as much as the interest kills me and i want to stick it to the 1%, there is no way you can get away from the debt. No way. Even if you say screw the credit score. Why ? When you need credit and it's a matter of life and death - it will be death. The banks are in charge(with gov) like it or not.

      I just don't see a way out. I'm looking for a better paying job but that's impossible these days. I've been looking for a year. Now that people have been laid off at my job I despise it here even more. But I come every day even though my body is probably dying of stress and I miss my children's school functions etc etc etc to get ahead but I'm more behind every month.

      My last problem is that certain things like finishing the food you have in the house already and stretching your dollar run into a snag. Kids will only eat certain things and you can't force them to eat something they don't like. Spouse won't give up cable and all the stations. I guess that's my problem, not the economy but emotionally, if everyone ELSE is getting what they want it makes it that much harder to deny myself lunch or coffee when I have to pay 3times that amount on the whim of a teacher making a party and requesting an item.

      Or a sudden book or supply or how bout an unexpected auto repair?

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      this is really hard to do im borrowing to pay off debt cant get anymore credit and its all for essentials food gas electric rent and now i cant get out of this mess

    • Ask KayB profile image

      Ask KayB 

      7 years ago

      oh wow..this is just what I needed..a reality check.. this really helps to put things in perspective for me. I really need to read this everyday and follow some of the tips here. Thanks. This is major!!!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I feel your advise is good. I am a single mother working two jobs. I tried to file for chapter 7 but could only give the lawyer $500. Which he still has. They want 2000 more. Just had surgery on my shoulder and now I'm worse off. Struggling to get food don't eat so my kids can. I want to shoot myself but look at my kids and see that it's not their fault plus that's the cowards way out. I feel when anyone is as bad or worse than me that any negative or sarcastic comments make us want to beat the #@%# out of them. For my kids, someone please I need help!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      overall good advice except when I call my creditors they said 'too bad so sad wheres my money?' I lost my job and cut to the bone now working part time with no garrantee of hours I am at the mercy of the scheluder and sales so that makes a budget very hard...I make barely enough to work and keep the roof over my head and the lites on and food on the table...hamburger is a luxury...the best advice I could add though would be do not fall for a token payment to a creditor such as$10 a month. all this does is reset the statue of limitations on the debt

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Good advice, but how do you set a budget when you expence are 2000 a month and your income is 1500? You live to the bone, no lugeries: no cable, no phone, no internet, no vaction, no debt (except the house), no investment, no clothing allowance, and no health insurace. You just have living expences. what should one do?

      A budget only goes so fare, income must be greater then or equal to expence always. No budget can sovle that.


    • Kate H profile image

      Kate H 

      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      This was a great hub, very helpful. I'm sorry you seem to have received some rude comments. But it was very well written and informative. Thanks for sharing this information. I learned a couple things that will be useful.

    • Jennie Demario profile image

      Venture Boyz 

      7 years ago from Floating in the clouds

      So true. Due to the current economic climate it seems that many people are maxing out one credit line just to pay another. The moving of the debt around in circles is just digging your whole deeper. I am always torn between paying off my credit card and car loan or keeping money in the bank for an emergency. Living debt free sounds good but keeping some money in the bank is also comforting.

    • Sasinib profile image


      7 years ago

      Fantastic advice! Love this - keep up the great work!

    • June Ulufale profile image

      June Ulufale 

      7 years ago from American Samoa

      I read your blog, I can agree with some of the situations and see where I have gone wrong. But, I live on an island, considered to be a US Territory, but without the many of services provided in the states. Pay here is also very low, so after doing all of your excercises, and you count out to make payments for the outstanding debts, and you just can't meet it because there is nothing left. Im saying because, my pay amount fluctuates so it goes up and down alot. Some months I can make the payment some months I cannot make any kind of payment. Can't they just do away with our debts and start all over again? Wishful thinking. Thanx.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      There is a lot of good information in this Hub. It's particularly helpful due to the recession.

    • Jennifer profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Gypsy, I don't think it could be taken the wrong way. You did awesome! The problem is few people are willing to sacrifice like that, even when they desparately need to. I remember when I first graduated college I worked with a man who ate nothing but a small piece of cornbread each day for lunch. He was always starving. I asked him one time and he said it was all he could afford if he wanted to pay his bills. True sacrifice. Way to go on digging out.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I just re-read my comment and wanted to add something for fear that it be taken the wrong way. I certainly don't mean to say that what I did is right for everyone. Some people feel they need a few little extras on occasion to feel normal or to get through, and there is certainly nothing wrong or bad about feeling that way. I just wanted to share my personal experience that I felt so much more in control and have become happier long-term now that I've decided those tiny purchases are sometimes more insidious than the large ones, especially when added together. However, it may be another person's experience that they are happier not giving up those things. Just because it worked for me doesn't mean it's right for everyone.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Debbie said she very rarely rents a movie or eats out maybe 2 times a month, if that. Everyone's situation is different, but sometimes that sort of thinking is part of the problem. I only say this because I've been there. When I was in that situation and had no money, I had to make some hard choices. I started by shutting off even basic cable, never renting a movie (never ever, not even once a year), and never ever EVER eating out, much less eating anything expensive. Meatless spaghetti, rice, beans, and water every single day for two years. One or two meals instead of three. Completely got rid of everything nonessential. Did not even buy milk or clothing. I finally pulled myself out and am doing so much better these days. Of course, such drastic choices aren't for people with health problems and like others have said, if you have credit cards, cut those things up and only pay on them after other bills are paid.

    • careertest profile image


      7 years ago

      I agree with "figuring out ways to make some extra money". These can be negotiating with your creditors, selling anything that you don't use or even bringing in any extra income you could.

      When you do all these things just remember that the interest charges and other fees of your credit cards are higher than the returns of different good investments.

    • AnkushKohli profile image

      Ankush Kohli 

      7 years ago from India

      Why not become a hubber, write lots of hubs and start earning through Google Adsense & other referral services. In this way, you can pay your bills :) How about this?

    • profile image

      Debt Collection 

      7 years ago

      There are a lot of good ideas in this hub and also in the commentary. Everyone's situation will be different, so it is impossible to say what is best for each person. Keep up the nice dialogue

    • zuoguanggao profile image


      7 years ago

      gamall 14 months ago

      I have a simple solution if you can't pay your bills. Just walk away from them. The banks brought the housing scam to US shores with the assistance of the Fed who looked the other way. This ponzi scam then ruined credit cards and banks who borrow at 1/2 percent lend at 20 percent. It is time to stomp these dishonest financial institutions in the mouth. I don't mean physical violence. Change your phone number and walk away from unsecured debt. Don't let them get to you.

      I agree with MikeNV in his post above. There are more important things in life for most of us than a credit score. Try survival as one.


      good advice

    • zuoguanggao profile image


      7 years ago

      Gary 9 months ago

      We have a tremendous amout of school loans and a very high mortgage payment. Wife works but ive been on dissability for many yrs. The school loan people wont do one thing to help us and everything my wife makes is gone after most, not all of the bills are paid. We have hardly anything left for groceries and everyday living expences. what are we to do. Credit card companies are basicially telling us where to go. My health is not good and im so stressed out I don't know how much longer we can go on month after month


      Almost the same situation like you are.

    • zuoguanggao profile image


      7 years ago

      Fern 19 months ago

      Re: Debbie's comment. I agree with you 100%, how ridiculous to tell someone to stop spending when paying for gas and groceries is an issue. I am not married, have never had kids, yet I pay high taxes, no tax break for kids, the politicians only care about people who are married and have kids, they never are concerned with a person who lives alone and still has to have the same utilities as multi-working families. They have more money coming in and get all the breaks. I


      I agree with you

    • zuoguanggao profile image


      7 years ago

      Debbie 21 months ago

      I think that is a very stupid thing to put on this web sight first thing you know stop spending . I don't spend at all but on things needed . I have never even taken a vacation. I don't smoke or drink very rarely even rent a movie or eat out maybe 2 times a month if that I don't leave my house on the weekends so I don't use gas , and my husband the same. My husband got laid off in Nov and wnt back the first of March .We have struggled and not spending does not mattter we could never depend on the unemployment they only sent him money on a card 3 times the whole time he was off. Even still the bills have to be paid personally I'd like to put the blame on unemployment. But the fact is know one cares about people like us we have no kids and never get anything back in taxes to help pay anything off. Anyway I know that I do not spend more than I need to!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


      I have the same situation here. I haven't used credit card for years, but the unemployed, what to do to pay the bills?

    • JohnBarret profile image


      7 years ago

      Yes, these types of tips are what we needed most.

    • luminita1977 profile image


      7 years ago from New York

      good article

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent tips. I'd say if budgeting doesn't help, then a review of the budget might help and to further cutting costs wherever necessary.=)

    • medor profile image


      7 years ago from Michigan, USA

      excellent, common sense advice that many can't quite get through their heads... excellent job... thanks

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      If you can not afford to pay just don't pay on the credit cards and send the companies a letter saying why. They all going to sale it to a collection agency anyway. And you don't have to pay them either. So you have bad credit for 7 years,the credit card company are going to report your late and unpaid bills anyway.

    • rickyrt44 profile image


      7 years ago from LOGAN, WEST VIRGINIA

      Jennifer, this was very useful Thank you!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent advise for all those in need. Its all about good money management.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great hub Jennifer - thanks for sharing this with us :)

    • YlvaJansson profile image


      8 years ago

      This is a really great hub! A lot of people over look the STEP 1... stop spending :) Nothing else will work if you don't stop spending. Especially during times like these when the value of money is going down :(

    • alishaneuron profile image


      8 years ago from Colorado (U.S)

      A more accurate definition captures the process of content creation. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for the great advice. Thumbs up!

    • profile image

      Transportation Collection Agency 

      8 years ago

      Excellent hub. I think downsizing is one of the best options. Do I really need 300 channels of cable TV? I can easily save money by getting basic cable and using wifi at the library. Thanks.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      BA humbug!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Go to Vegas, change your name, get a new SS# and start over. Ha, just kidding. I remember getting a pamphlet years ago that promised a way to debt freedom and that is exactly what it said to do.

    • profile image

      Jeff Ragan 

      8 years ago

      Life is full of surprises, but bills don't seem to care. They keep rolling in, even if you've lost your job, fallen ill, encountered unexpected household expenses...or simply lived a bit above your means. Your financial crunch may be temporary, but your credit record is enduring...and overdue bills can haunt you for years to come.

      What can you do if you're having difficulty paying your bills? Here are a few suggestions:

      1. Don't stick your head in the sand. No matter how tempting, trying to ignore a mounting pile of bills is the worst thing you could do. You'll end up with late fees, interest charges...and a ruined credit rating.

      2. Be wary of debt consolidation plans. While these may be effective, the concept of borrowing money to clear up obligations is not considered to be a generally sound approach. In many instances, it simply pushes the problem a few months or years into the future. Remember, you cannot borrow your way out of debt.

      3. Complete a personal balance sheet to help pinpoint your current situation in terms of assets and liabilities and help identify possible steps you can take. You may want to use a simple note pad. However, it is recommended that you obtain a pre-printed form, which will allow you to record complete information. These are available from your local financial institution or your New York Life agent.

      4. Make a separate list all of your bills and amounts you owe each month. Include credit cards, rent or mortgage, electricity, phone, car payments, college loans, insurance.

      5. Develop a strategy for debt repayment. Calculate how you could pay each bill on a revised schedule...perhaps paying smaller amounts over a longer time period, or until your financial picture changes. If your finances are out of control, contact a consumer credit counseling agency. However, avoid "debt doctors," who often claim they can erase your credit history for a fee.

      6. Contact the people you owe. Remember, if they do not know your situation, you could end up in court. So, with smaller, local organizations that know you personably, pick up the phone and call. Explain your situation and discuss options. The idea is to take the initiative by presenting your plan for repayment. You may be pleasantly surprised at the positive response. Creditors will appreciate your concern...and you'll be more likely to receive revised terms designed for your personal financial situation.

      The same goes for dealing with larger, national creditors. Call first and talk to someone in the customer service department. Stress your interest in paying off the debt and ask about options. Remember, most companies have no more desire to lose a customer than you do to avoid your bills. The key is communication. Important: Be sure to get names (first and last) of the people to whom you talk, as well as direct phone numbers. Not only does this help you track them down again, but it also helps build a relationship.

      7. Get all agreements in writing. A verbal okay to debt restructuring is fine. But it still needs to be on record. Whether dealing with a large or a small organization, a written agreement may be all you have to prove that a revised repayment schedule was okayed.

      8. Contact the credit bureau to verify that your record remains clean and that it contains no blots. Also, you have the right to add a statement to your credit record explaining any discrepancies or disputes.

      9. Don't let your insurance policies lapse. Your medical insurance and homeowner's coverage provides valuable protection. The same goes for your life insurance. If you are having difficulty paying your premiums, contact your agent to discuss the options available.

      10. Only declare bankruptcy as a last resort. In 2007, nearly 900,000 American consumers and businesses declared bankruptcy.1 But that doesn't mean it should be considered an easy alternative to paying bills. Under bankruptcy laws, debts do not miraculously disappear without penalty. Bankruptcy will remain on your credit record for ten years. Avoid it if you can.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I just can't believe all the feel sorry for me comments. If you make $350,000 a year and now make nothing and cannot live for 5 or 6 years on the money YOU SHOULD HAVE SAVED come on. Sell the $500,000 house and the Mercedes and move to Iowa or Missouri where can get a 4 bedroom 2 bath home in a quite place for about $70,000 and get a job making $30,000. If you ran a business and made less than you would have after expenses at a regular 40 hour a week job and went into debt half a million to try to save your business maybe business school and finance and accounting classes should have came into place before the business. Just an observation........On the other hand, people who end up in a great deal of debt using credit to pay bills and buy everyday household items because they or a spouse has lost a job is one of the worst kinds of debt to recover from. I know most people don't think about it but these things need to planned for in advance and it may seen stupid but start teaching your kids about the dangers of credit cards and debt in JR High. I am new to this site and have started my own HUB and I look forward to reading as much here as I can, there seems to be a great deal of useful information here.

      I am sorry if I singled someone out or hurt someone's feelings but I am a say what's on my mind type of person. I will be posting Hubs about debt related subjects as I have time.

    • 5institutes profile image


      8 years ago from Nampa, ID

      I thought I was reading Dave Ramsey's "Total Money Makeover" for a minute. Great stuff!

    • scla profile image


      8 years ago from Southern California

      Very good insights on how to dig yourself out of debt and pay your bills. For some people this will be very helpful because they have been overspending, but for others there is just not enough money to even cover there necessities. As a bankruptcy attorney I see people living on very squeezed budgets and scraping every penny to get by. I have seen families in California, where its a 4 family household, and they are managing to live on $200 a month in food expenses.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Another thing to do is pay for everything you don't pay electroincally ot by mail in cash. By the way, I have hubs on financial education for young people - college and high school age. You may want to check them out. I would love any feedback you may have.

    • adorababy profile image


      8 years ago from Syracuse, NY

      Great advice! Borrowing money in order to pay off another debt is such a vicious cycle that anyone should get out of as soon as possible.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      My husband and I are on Social Security. Our total income is $1,500.00 per month. We now live in a small RV because keeping our home became impossible. Our debts include many medical bills. Medicare does not pay it all, believe me. But, we are so glad to have it. A lot of people don't. I really feel for people who still have kids at home. I honestly don't know what they do. These are very scary times. We all need to pray for each other. I totally agree about banks. They don't care about you! They never did. By the way, we don't use credit cards

    • ldparker10 profile image


      8 years ago

      great hub. very helpful

    • ceholmes profile image


      8 years ago from Chicago

      I read this from top to finish, excellent info with a realistic, honest approach

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      thats very nice advice jennifer, i think in this time of economic recession and problems you article has its worth in millions, good job really. check out my profile too

    • profile image

      Tom Jamison 

      8 years ago from Orlando FL

      My advice: If you are this far under water, stop paying everything except the electric bill, medicine, food and water. Add those payments and subtract from your income. If this number is positive, you need to get prepared for a fight, but you can come out ahead in this game. Do not walk away from your home. See my profile.

    • profile image

      Karen Miller 

      8 years ago

      I can not understand how people can sit back and judge others.

      I work every day and you say pay only the important bills.

      What do we do with the other ones. Tear them up.

      I have to decide on my High Blood Pressure medicine or grocery.

      I tried to talk to some one about only paying the interest on my house payment and I was told I had to pay the whole monthly payment. So when they call me and tell me I am a month late I have to tell them why and they inform me I have a late fee to pay also.

      So when peole talk about programs out there to help people who have jobs and still can not make end meet makes me sick.

      We will all have to meet our maker I hope you have the right answer for why no one could help.

      Have a Great day.

      I go to bed hungry every night I hope you have enough to eat.

      God Bless America.

      Karen Miller

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 

      8 years ago

      Nice informative hub.There are so many people struggling and trying to pay there bills and make ends meet.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      We have a tremendous amout of school loans and a very high mortgage payment. Wife works but ive been on dissability for many yrs. The school loan people wont do one thing to help us and everything my wife makes is gone after most, not all of the bills are paid. We have hardly anything left for groceries and everyday living expences. what are we to do. Credit card companies are basicially telling us where to go. My health is not good and im so stressed out I don't know how much longer we can go on month after month

    • profile image

      no more mortgage defaults please 

      8 years ago

      You have one of the best hubs on debt I've seen. Lots of good detailed advice makes it easy to follow.

      Going through your bank statement and going line by line and writing down next to each line what it was for will help many people see where they can make some immediate changes to save money.

      Taking responsibility for your debt and working to get back on top of it is tough, but admirable. There are a lot of people walking away from their homes that are underwater because they can't afford the payments. Many of them are carrying too much credit card and other debts too.

      Controlling your spending is key but it is also the most difficult part for most. Follow the excellent tips above and take control of your debt while you can.

    • zinneryone profile image


      8 years ago from Plano, TX

      This is especially pertinent with the economy the way that it still is. Thanks for the hub.

    • tdarby profile image


      8 years ago

      Great advice. I read a good book a while back with very similar advice. It was called You are Broke Because You Want to Be. By Larry Winget. He basically says that we make our choices and our choices can make or break us financially. The only way to change the results is to change the daily choices . Good advice. Great hub.

    • genrp profile image

      Genie Rose Palabay-De Guzman 

      8 years ago from North Hollywood, CA, USA

      I need this advise right now. This really goes to me. I've been spending money like crazy. I've got a lot of bills to pay, that includes credit cards and utility bills, and other debts. I've been working for almost 3 years now and I haven't earned anything, not a single cent but I have bought appliances, etc..sort of investment I guess. I'll take your advise and I'm really hoping this year I can earn money so I can go overseas to work or so I can buy a house instead of renting.

    • Johanna Smith profile image

      Johanna Smith 

      8 years ago from Fort Collins, CO

      I recommend a spreadsheet and put on google docs to get it anywhere.

    • xunlei profile image


      8 years ago

      it is a nice hub , great? Thanks ?

    • profile image

      No More Mortgage Blogger 

      8 years ago

      The debt elimination advice here on this hub page is great for someone who can afford their mortgage and their bills today.

      It's not fair to blast the author if you don't have the income to cover your monthly expenses. You may need to contact a bankruptcy attorney if you're going further underwater every month. They'll tell you if should go BK or look at debt settlement.

      Everyone's situation is different. Get advice from a financial professional if you are in real trouble.

    • TnFlash profile image


      8 years ago from Tampa, Florida

      Very timely post! Great job!

    • successfulblogger profile image


      9 years ago from Los Angeles,Ca

      Lots of people need this right now. Good hub.

    • bgamall profile image

      Gary Anderson 

      9 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      I have a simple solution if you can't pay your bills. Just walk away from them. The banks brought the housing scam to US shores with the assistance of the Fed who looked the other way. This ponzi scam then ruined credit cards and banks who borrow at 1/2 percent lend at 20 percent. It is time to stomp these dishonest financial institutions in the mouth. I don't mean physical violence. Change your phone number and walk away from unsecured debt. Don't let them get to you.

      I agree with MikeNV in his post above. There are more important things in life for most of us than a credit score. Try survival as one.

    • thaninja profile image


      9 years ago from America

      Rough situation to be in. I have quit buying frivolous things like subs from subway, starbucks coffee etc. I also haven't bought clothes in a long time.

    • MikeNV profile image


      9 years ago from Henderson, NV

      The reality of a situation when you can not pay your bills is this... like it or not. Pay the mortgage, buy the food, pay the utilities. Unsecured debt should not be paid off at all until you can cover the others. To give money to the credit card companies is a waste of resource. You may never catch up. The interest you pay on minimum payments will simply keep you forever indebted. Now I am not suggesting everyone be an intentional deadbeat... I am saying if you are pressed into a corner the credit cards are the LAST thing you should pay. And you should call the companies and explain your situation. Many will suspend interest in lieu of a payment plan to get you back on track. Debt consolidation is a bad idea because it's just a guise for profit. Seriously if the Federal Government can hand out $3.5 billion to American Express while they continue to pay their CEO in excess of $40 million a year, and then charge customers 27% plus late fees... you have to really wonder if what you owe them can't wait a bit. I am not just singling them out... many other banks are doing the same thing, I just know about this because I was so appalled at what their CEO was making while they were supposedly losing money.

      There has got to be some rationality injected into our system of Capitalism or the crash will be here very soon. A country can not sustain debt for an unlimited length of time. CEO compensation has got to be capped at a multiple of the lowest paid employee to put some equity in the workplace and get people back to work.

    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 

      9 years ago from Hawaii

      Great advice and a very timely one. I will send this to some friends who are dealing with debts and loss of income. Thanks!

    • skye2day profile image


      9 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Great Advice. One problem Two Lost Jobs, No income. Call charities and Church's, United Way, Salvation Army, 700 Club. If you partner with any of them that does help. Fortunate I do partner with a couple of them Thank God. Our church does not have benevolent funds. They support and other charities. (most are out of funds in one day) They have to divide up between thousands. Pray allot and Trust God. Do not give up. He will help you. Just believe him.Most organizations have little if any to spare but someone will come through. God knows the right person, place or thing for you Miss Cue. I was in hospital for 4 days almost left this earth but a miracle the bowell obstruction dissaperared. True story. I know God is going to provide rent, car, heat. Trust him. If you do not know him now is the time. He loves you. He will provide a way. He always comes through with someone willing to help with love and no expectations. The state, and other organizations are low of funds here but there is one that does not fail. God. So for those like me that have nothing to sacrifice or stash Go to Gods word. He will direct your path. With Love. Beyond my wildest dreams he provided last month and I am believing for this month. Calling creditors helps but does not keep the phone on for long or the electric. Thank you for your friendly pointers. If you have nothing to budget and payments that is a big Ouch. I guess another hub in and of itself may be good. I may write one, I am there. As for Miss Cue, the crash came down. I can relate. You will be OK. Make calls and believe God.

      Sacrifice is easy when you have nothing to sacrifice.

      Something will come through for you. Keep calling and sharing with organizations something will come up for you.

      PS It is cheaper to eat at Wendys for $2.00 to $3.00 for two, then going to the grocery store for mac and cheese for two.

    • MissCue profile image

      Helen Kramer 

      9 years ago from Santa Barbara, CA.

      So, what you wrote is useful to an extent.....but what would you do if you had a thriving small family-operated business, then one day it all came crashing down and you had to walk away empty handed with over $400,000 debt. My story goes a bit further than yours. You still have hope! I went from $320,000 a year to ZERO. And still an ongoing desperate search for the answer.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I have $726/month payments on two unsecured loans that I got when I was making a good deal more money that I am going to have to negotiate. I spoke to one today and am in the process of getting on hardship. I'm going to talk to the other one later today. I just can't make my payments but I want to pay my debts. I'll be fine if they will cut the payments in half and let me pay twice as long. I can't keep going this way. They are basically the same as credit cards. If they went away I'd be fine but I don't have the cash to pay them off or any way to get any money to pay them off. I've aready sold my guns and motorcycle. Those were the only things I had that I didn't owe money on. Sometimes it is hard for me to think about how much better off I was last year.

    • projectmaster profile image


      9 years ago

      I really like this article , and I think what you trying to get over to people is that if they want to really get out of debt, there are sacrifices that MUST BE MADE! Great article

    • profile image

      Erick Smart 

      9 years ago

      The discussion on receiving tax breaks for kids is ridiculous. It really does not help many at all. Kids are expensive with one friend telling me he can directly relate $1,000 a month to his kids general care (not toys and junk). The tax break he receives is really not that much in comparison.

    • deestew profile image


      9 years ago from Kentucky

      Encouraging and sensible article. Divide and conquer. That's a great way to approach an overwhelming situation.

    • mecheshier profile image


      9 years ago

      This is a really helpful and caring hub that I am sure has helped many.

    • achase profile image


      9 years ago

      You did a really helpful hub. Well done!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Useful hub with score 95. Great. The worth related article

    • profile image

      panic away 

      9 years ago

      great hub and some very helpful tips... its so easy to piddle away a few bucks here and there and not realize how much it adds up...

    • create a page profile image

      create a page 

      9 years ago from Maryland, USA

      Great article. Very helpful.


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