So, you realize you need to get your finances in order. You know you need to get your debt paid off and some money put away in savings. But how are you supposed to do that when you aren’t even current on your bills?
I’m going to share some great tips for getting current on your bills so that you can start your battle plan today!
- Track your spending. Pull your last bank statement and put all of your purchases into this form. It will show you what you are spending your money on.
- Create a budget. Not just any budget, a detailed budget that makes use of every penny you make. Include your expense categories from step 1. At this time, only include minimum payments.
- List your overdue bills. Make a list of all bills you are currently behind on (Here is a form you can use) and by how much. This will tell you where any “extra” money you find in your budget will need to go.
- Cut, Cut, Cut. Now, cut your budget. Take a pair of scissors to that and give yourself a really bad high and tight. Not sure what to cut? Basically anything that is not a need to live. You might think you have non-negotiable items, but those need to go too. Remember, your sacrifices are only temporary. Here’s some ideas:
- Cable – consider Netflix, Hulu, etc.
- Eating Out – cook at home.
- Entertainment (Movies, etc.) – There are plenty of creative ways to create memories by doing local free things.
- Cigarettes – these can cost you HUNDREDS of dollars every month, maybe its time to quit?
- Extra Curricular Activities – Are all your kids in dance and karate? Consider suspending these activities until you can get some room in the budget. Look for cheaper or free activities the kids can get involved in.
- Hobbies – If theres not a way to do these for little to no money, then lets hold off for a while.
- Evaluate. Now that you’ve cut what you can, go back to the budget. Is there any money left over? If so, start assigning it to those bills that are behind. Work your way up from due date if you can, unless there are bills behind in one of your “need to live” categories (food, transportation, housing). You want to try to get current on bills coming up the soonest so they don’t accrue even more fees or your lights don’t get shut off.
- Make More Money. This is probably one of the hardest steps. But sometimes, the only way to get ahead is to work more. Consider a part-time job or something you can do from home. Maybe you are handy or mechanically inclined and can make money that way. Find a way to increase your income any way you can. Its going to suck, you will be tired, you will be stressed BUT I promise there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
- Revisit Step 5 or move onto step 8.
- Final options. Now you are pretty much out of options. Do you have a car you can get rid of and buy a beater? Is there enough stuff around your house that you could hold a garage sale? Can you look at a different career that makes more money? Can you sell your house? Can you move from your current rental to a cheaper one? If you’ve made it all the way down here, something has got to give. Quit giving excuses or justifying why you can’t do something. I’m sorry to be blunt, but you are broke and have created a bad mess for yourself. If you are willing to sacrifice and work hard, you can climb out of this hole.
Before you can start saving or paying off debt, you have to be current on your bills. Go through these steps and see where it gets you. If you think you’ve done everything you can, but there still isn’t enough money in the budget to get current or make any progress, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (256)361-7877. We will take the opportunity to evaluate your personal situation and try to come up with some more specific options for you.