Are you feeling overwhelmed by mounting bills and a tight budget? You're not alone. According to a recent survey, 63% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and struggle to make ends meet.
But don't let the stress weigh you down. There is hope!
With a little bit of planning and organization, you can get back on track and regain control of your finances.
First things first, take a deep breath. It can be overwhelming to think about all of the bills you need to catch up on, but it's important to remember that you're not alone. There are many resources and strategies you can use to get back on track.
Let’s dive in.
“Do I Have Enough” Is A Horrible MaskRead Post
Breaking the Pattern: How to Catch Up On Bills When You’re Behind
In this article, we’re going to go over practical as well as psychological tricks to help you catch up on bills when you’re behind.
First, we’ll start with the practical side of things, so here are 7 actionable tips to help you create a monthly budget and catch up on bills:
1. Start by Making a Plan.
Creating a monthly budget is the first step in getting your finances back on track. Begin by listing all of your monthly income and expenses. Be sure to include fixed expenses like your rent or mortgage, car payments, and insurance, as well as variable expenses like groceries and entertainment.
Next, take a look at your income and expenses to see where you can make cuts. Can you cancel a streaming service or gym membership? Are there any phone or cable bills you can reduce? Look for areas where you can trim your expenses without sacrificing the things that are most important to you.
Use this free monthly budget packet to create your plan. Stick to it and adjust every month as needed!
2. Call Your Creditors.
If you're having trouble making your monthly payments, don't be afraid to reach out to your creditors. Many companies offer payment plans to help customers who are struggling to catch up on bills. You may be able to negotiate a lower interest rate or extend the length of your loan. Feel free to read my previous blog on how to negotiate lower rates for more details.
3. Build an Emergency Fund.
An emergency fund can help you cover unexpected expenses, such as car repairs or medical bills, without having to resort to high-interest credit cards. Aim to save enough money to cover three to six months of expenses.
It might seem impossible to build an emergency fund when you’re already behind on your bills, but remember, Rome wasn’t built overnight. Take your time. It’s better to put even a little bit into your emergency fund than nothing at all. If you need encouragement, think about it this way: Building an emergency fund now could help prevent a financial emergency in the future.
4. Keep an Eye on Your Credit Score.
Your credit score is a reflection of your ability to repay your debts. Late payments can have a negative impact on your score, so it's important to make sure you're paying your bills on time. If you only recently missed a payment but have a long history of making payments on time, try calling your creditor to see if they can waive the late fee.
Feel free to ask whether or not they’re reporting the late payment to the credit bureaus. If they are, explain your situation. If you have a history of making payments on time but only recently got behind due to a sudden job loss or similar situation, they may give you a temporary grace period.
5. Look for Extra Money in Different Places.
Many people are able to find extra money in their budget by cutting back on unnecessary expenses, such as eating out or buying expensive clothing. Others find extra money by working a part-time job or freelancing on the side. Consider trying a side hustle to boost your income.
6. Make the Minimum Payment, Then More.
When you're struggling to catch up on bills, it can be tempting to only make the minimum payment. However, this can lead to high interest rates and additional fees. Aim to pay more than the minimum payment each month to help reduce the amount of interest you pay over time.
However, if you’re already behind on your finances, it’s okay to make the minimum payment until you’ve regained your footing. Baby steps are better than no progress at all. If you need time to get back on track financially, begin by making the minimum payment, then as you can, begin accelerating your debt pay-off.
7. Don't Ignore Your Financial Situation.
Ignoring your financial situation will not make it go away. It's important to face your financial challenges head-on and take steps to improve your situation.
This might sound like a given, but a lot of people put off their financial problems until the problem is too big to ignore. Don’t forget that the bill always comes due. The sooner you begin tackling the problem, the sooner you will be free of it!
Catching up on bills can be overwhelming and emotionally taxing, but with a little bit of planning and organization, you can regain control of your finances.
In short: Start by creating a monthly budget, calling your creditors, building an emergency fund, keeping an eye on your credit score, looking to make extra money, making the minimum payment (or more, when possible), and not ignoring your financial situation.
Take it one step at a time and don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. A financial advisor or credit counselor can provide valuable guidance and support.
Mind Over Money: Psychological Tips to Get Back on Track
Budgeting and getting back on track with bills can be a daunting task, but it's important to remember that it's not just about numbers, it's also about mindset. Here are 8 psychological tips to help you stay motivated and on track:
1. Set specific, measurable goals.
Instead of just saying “I want to save more money,” set a specific goal such as “I want to save $500 for an emergency fund by the end of the month.” Having a clear and measurable goal will make it easier to stay motivated and on track.
2. Break it down.
If the task of catching up on bills seems overwhelming, break it down into smaller, manageable tasks. For example, instead of thinking about the entire amount you owe, focus on making one payment at a time.
3. Celebrate small wins.
It's important to celebrate small milestones along the way. Every time you pay off a bill or save a certain amount of money, treat yourself to something small, like a cup of coffee or a movie night.
4. Use visualization.
Visualization is a powerful tool for achieving goals. Close your eyes and imagine yourself catching up on bills and achieving financial stability. Picture yourself paying off debt, building an emergency fund, and having enough money to enjoy the things you love. If you want some inspo, I encourage you to check out my video on how to set up a budget station!
5. Surround yourself with support.
Surround yourself with people who will support and encourage you on your journey. Share your goals and progress with friends and family. If you’re married, dating, or partnered, try to get on the same page as your significant other.
6. Find an accountability partner.
In addition to support, having an accountability partner can be a great way to stay motivated and on track. Find a friend or family member who is also working on their finances, and set up a system where you can hold each other accountable and celebrate each other's successes. Maybe it’s a weekly text or video chat – just something that keeps you motivated and accountable!
7. Change the way you think about money.
The way you think about money can have a big impact on your ability to manage it. Instead of thinking of money as a source of stress and anxiety, think of it as a tool that can help you achieve your goals and live the life you want.
8. Reward yourself.
Treat yourself for reaching your milestones. When you reach your goals, reward yourself with something that you have been wanting.
Budgeting Basics: Income VS ExpensesRead Post
Remember, budgeting and getting back on track with bills is a journey, not a destination. It's important to be patient and kind with yourself, and to remember that setbacks are a normal part of the process. With the right mindset and a bit of planning, you can achieve your financial goals and take control of your finances.
Need a place to find emotional support for your finances? Looking to share your wins and victories with a community that cares? We invite you to join the TBM Family on Facebook. Hope to see you there!
This is great – thanks, Kumiko! I’m not technically behind on my bills at the moment, but I sometimes have to pay my bills up to a week late…and perpetuate the cycle of not being current. It’s a stress-inducing mess.
Okay, so I identified two items that I’m going to sell…fingers crossed that someone buys them! Thanks for the tip 🙂
kumiko Ehrmantraut says
This is the first budget article I have read which is both inspiring and filled with valuable information. Most of them are so useless. Keep up the good work and thanks for the tips.
Now off to look for things to sell!
kumiko Ehrmantraut says
So glad you liked it Ann!
I am $100,000 in debt mostly student loans and I am the only income. I currently live with my sister and help her with some of the bills. I would like to buy my own house someday since its just me and my spouse (disabled) and the kids stay sometimes. My question is should I consolidate everything or file bankruptcy or what would be a good plan of attack?
Bryan Sarff says
That feeling of being behind on your bills is not something you want to continue. You have set forth some really great, concrete ideas to get back on track and reduce your stress level. Thanks for sharing.
kumiko Ehrmantraut says
Thank you Bryan!
Lee Smith says
Getting your budget in shape will not only make you feel better but will benefit you financially in so many other ways. Great advice to get on track and ensure you save money in the future.
kumiko Ehrmantraut says
Thank you Lee!
All I can say is, thank you. Smart on point helpful, useful information.
kumiko Ehrmantraut says
Thank you Candy!
If you haven’t already acquired one, I am available as a proofreader. Your information is great although contains several grammatical errors. I can definitely use some of your recommendations!
Thank you!! I actually read all of this and am in the process of putting it forward. I’m a single mom with 3 kids and no help. I feel like I’ll be able to see daylight soon.
kumiko Ehrmantraut says
Seeking Help says
This is the first article with truly practical, “been there” advice that I have found (despite desperately searching EVERYWHERE for it). EXCELLENT article – so appreciate the way you broke it down into manageable steps. I have been paralyzed by fear for years now, and obviously, that hasn’t made the situation better. Great links too; thank you!
I am hoping you can provide some guidance in our individual situation. My husband and I agree that our financial situation is near critical, but he is far less willing to make sacrifices than I am (we dont agree on what are/are not necessities). In addition to the financial stress, my daughter and I both have significant health issues; our son is a senior in high school next year, and we have dipped into retirement twice already to pay for only the first year of our daughter’s college. Poor decisions early on in our marriage, combined with becoming ill 6 years ago (reducing me to 50% work, and now none at all), fixed bills that obviously didn’t go down just because our income did, and kids starting college, have created the perfect storm. We have never received any type of assistance (I haven’t even applied for disability), and we have never considered bankruptcy – but we are scared. My husband is blessed with an excellent job, but he literally works almost 80 hours a week. We are about to celebrate our 25th anniversary, but these combined stressors have really taken a toll on our relationship. Every attempt to face our finances results in tears, frustrations, and more avoidance. We desperately need an experienced, objective third party to not only sit down and advise us, but ALSO to help us set up various accounts and a concrete system (such as auto-pays)to begin a structured paydown of life ur debts. Can you point us in the right direction on this? Who does this sort of thing? I have contacted “financial advisors” and “money managers”, but these all seem to service clients with LOTS of money. Any help/referral you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you again for your blog.
Although I have not read the article yet, I am sooooo looking forward to reading it. Your title has alwayssss been a question of mine, and I think that is why I have hesitated in starting a budget. THANK YOU IN ADVANCE.
These are all absolutely great tips. Living below your means when you’re on a budget is really all it takes and your plan for how to quickly catch up on past due bills is awesome! Thanks for the tips. 🙂
Lydia @ Thrifty Frugal Mom says
This is such a great practical post and I love how detailed you are and spell everything out in a clear way that makes it easy for people to implement! Sharing on Pinterest so others can benefit. 🙂
These are great ideas, I frequently overspend on things. So these are great tips now that I’m getting into a bloody mortgage payment. Thanks again.