Tools to Help When You Can’t Pay Your Bills
When you can’t afford to pay your monthly bills, you might feel like doing nothing is your only option. What else can you do when a surprise bill comes your way and the bank account is empty? But the truth is, falling behind on bills today can lead to bigger issues, like poor credit, mounting debt and a host of other financial problems.
No matter if your situation is temporary or if you’re consistently coming up short on funds, taking care of the situation now can prevent serious problems later down the line. If your bills are getting out of control, here are several tools and resources to help you budget and pay your bills.
Tools to Access Financial Aid
Depending on your situation, you may qualify for certain financial aid and government assistance programs to help you cover expenses and basic needs. Here are a few resources to explore if you need financial aid to help pay your bills.
- Use the federal aid Benefit Finder: If you have a low income, you may qualify for housing, health insurance and other financial assistance. Use this convenient benefit finder tool to check your eligibility and learn more about your options.
- Apply for unemployment insurance: If you’re unemployed, you can apply for unemployment insurance to help cover expenses while you’re looking for another position.
- Check out SpringFour: Find resources in your area like local food organizations, reduced-cost home repair and other services to help you get by.
Tools to Budget and Plan
Living within your means is an ongoing effort. You may need to revisit your budget and cut down on some expenses if you can’t afford your monthly bills. These resources can help you budget, plan and trim your expenses for free.
- Create your own budget: Follow this step-by-step guide to plan your expenses and income to create your own budget.
- Access a monthly budget template: Use our convenient budget calculator or customize one of these budget worksheets to manage your expenses.
- Use personal finance software: These free personal finance programs can help you save time by importing bank statements and automatically tracking your expenses as you create a monthly budget that works for you.
- Print a free monthly bill calendar: Sometimes, it’s easier to keep track of your bills and monthly expenses with visual cues, pen and paper. Complete this monthly bill calendar and hang it up where you can see it every day.
Tools to Help Manage Your Bills
Some creditors may be willing to adjust your payment terms if you can’t pay bills. You may be able to free up money in your budget with the following resources.
- Negotiate for a lower interest rate: If you have a good credit score, your lender may be willing to reduce your interest rate. Read our guide for tips on how to negotiate with your creditor for a lower interest rate.
- Explore payment deferment options: You may be able to delay payments, reduce your monthly payments or adjust your payment terms by calling your creditors. Read this step-by-step guide for more information.
- Consider debt consolidation: Staying on top of multiple monthly payments is tough; it’s even more difficult to handle if you fall behind on payments and rack up interest and late fees. Debt consolidation is the process of combining your monthly payments into one single payment, which can make it easier to budget and plan your expenses. Some people may also be able to lower their interest rates through debt consolidation.
Tools to Monitor and Protect Your Credit
Your credit health is just as important when money is tight. The stronger your credit score, the more affordable it will be to borrow money. However, your credit score may take a hit if you can’t pay your bills. Here’s how to monitor and protect your score for free.
- Check your score: Read this guide for ten free ways to check your credit score.
- Maintain a good credit score: Learn how various factors affect your credit score, like losing a job or applying for new credit.
- Dispute incorrect information: Credit reporting errors and fraud can damage your score. Here’s how to find and dispute any errors on your credit report.
Tools for Emergency Funding
Sometimes, unplanned expenses can’t wait and you need to access money fast. Emergency funding is available to help you pay for unplanned expenses and bills quickly. Keep in mind that when you’re short on cash, borrowing money can put you further into debt. Avoid borrowing money unless you’re sure you can afford to pay it back.
- Apply for an installment loan: Some installment loans are available online and can be funded within a matter of hours if you’re approved. You may prefer an installment loan over other types of credit if you’re looking to pay off one single, larger debt or for debt consolidation These loans typically come in one lump sum, and are paid back in installments over time.
- Apply for revolving credit: Revolving credit, like lines of credit or credit cards, give you more flexibility since you can borrow just the amount that you need (up to your limit), and only pay interest on the amount that you use.
The information in this article is provided for educational and informational purposes only, without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose. The information in this article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial, legal or any other advice. The information in this article is general in nature and is not specific to you the user or anyone else.