What You Should Do When You Can’t Pay Your Bills


Let’s face it — coming up short on your responsibilities sucks. Knowing your negative net worth plummets as you watch due dates come and go leaves you feeling worthless and stressed out. So you head online to find a possible solution. There, financial pundits suggest it’s your daily latte treat that’s the reason why you can’t pay your bills—that if you just learned how to be more frugal and tamp down impulsive shopping, you would be able to get out of the red.

Sound familiar? This kind of finger-pointing makes a bad thing worse. Not only is it unhelpful (who has the money for daily lattes when you can’t pay rent?), it’s unrealistic. Even if you were spending $5 on a latte each morning, cutting this habit isn’t a quick and effective way to pay off debt. If you’re struggling to pay your bills, you need practical advice that works. Keep reading to see what your short and long-term options are. We promise they won’t include skipping the Starbucks drive-thru.

Short Term Solutions
Short Term Solutions

• Short term solutions

Asking friends or family members for help

Depending on your relationship with your friends and family, they can help you out of an emergency. Borrowing from loved ones has its advantages; you won’t have to pay service fees or interest on what you owe. But this option has disadvantages that are personal in nature. You’ve probably heard about how money sours close relationships, so think about this option carefully. Read up on how to borrow from loved ones in a way that won’t affect your relationship. Typical advice suggests you be specific about how much you owe and the date(s) you repay your loan.

Using a short-term loan or cash advance

Not everyone is privileged enough to have a good relationship with their family, and their friends may be in the same sinking boat. In which case, borrowing from a financial company is your other option. If you need help paying bills quickly, direct payday lenders offer a fast alternative to conventional sources. Some companies, like MoneyKey, are payday loans online direct lenders only in some of the states they lend in. In others, they’re online lenders. Because they offer online short term loans, they don’t have the same obstacles that can slow down a traditional cash loan. As a result, payday loans from an online lender often arrive in one business day.

Direct Lender
Direct Lender

Establish a payment plan

Your creditors aren’t unsympathetic to your situation. Many services offer deferred payment plans to help their less fortunate customers. Learn how to negotiate with the best of them by reading these tips, and be honest when you speak with a representative. You might be able to change due dates, skip payments, or even reduce what you owe.

• Long-term solutions

Earning more: talk with your employer

If it’s not bad spending habits that got you where you are, then it’s your unbalanced budget. What you bring in doesn’t cover the cost of living. Underemployment and wage stagnation are two powerful economic factors that can limit what you earn each month—and you wouldn’t be alone. According to a recent report from PayScale, as many as 22 million workers in the U.S. are underemployed.

This can mean a couple things. In some cases, it describes people who are overqualified for the position they work. In others, it represents those workers who are forced to work one or more part-time jobs when they want a full-time one. Both mean you aren’t earning as much as you would like.

Payday Loans
Payday Loans

You might be able to make more if you speak with your employer about a raise and/or benefits package that befits your education and experience. It’s not going to be an easy conversation. You’ll need to convince your boss you’re worth the extra money. Your chances of persuading them to increase when you arrive at the meeting prepared, so check out CNBC’s guide for the underpaid and Business Insider’s instructive article to know what to say.

Earning more: getting a new job, a second job, or a side gig

Regardless of how well you craft your argument, your boss won’t always agree. If you can’t earn more in your current position, then you need to supplement your income in other ways. The most ideal solution would be to get a new job in your field that pays better. You can increase your chances of finding a better job by learning the best ways to write a cover letter and how to ace an interview.

But what if you send out 60 resumes and you can’t manage to snag a single interview? Finding a part-time job in the service or retail industries might be easier to get. You should also consider a side gig. Your side gig monetizes your skills and hobbies. If you’re a piano player, you can play at a bar or restaurant on the weekends to earn some extra cash. If you went to school for graphic design, you can offer your services online. If you’re skilled in the kitchen, you can start a small-time catering business.

Knowing you’re pinching every penny and still coming up short is devastating, but don’t let your plummeting self-worth stop you from searching out a solution. Cutting out lattes and other frivolous purchases aren’t the only ways you can improve your situation. Seek immediate help from a source you trust, then start thinking about long-term solutions. If that doesn’t work, there’s still hope. Once you’ve exhausted these basic methods, a financial advisor can help you figure out a more complex plan of attack. It won’t be easy, but getting on top of your bills is possible.