It has been reported that a majority of Americans are just one payment away from being unable to pay their bills. This could happen if a person misses several work days due to illness. A sizable emergency might also zap the budget. Most of us fail to adequate savings in the event of losing a job. Thus, it is fairly common to miss occasional monthly payments, which can ding your credit rating and result in late fees.
However, there are ways to avoid financial consequences if you are unable to pay one or more monthly bills.
Stay in Touch
Don’t avoid your creditors if you can’t meet the payment due-date. Instead, contact them to explain your circumstances. Most will enter a note on your credit record with the company for future reference, and they can be surprisingly understanding. If you usually make payments on time and have a good credit history, chances are that you will be given a grace period during which you can send late payments without penalty.
Make Partial Payments
Offer a partial payment if you cannot afford to pay the entire amount. Call the creditor to suggest this option, again explaining why you are unable to make the full payment at this time. Indicating a possible date when regular payments will be resumed can be an incentive for creditors to accept a partial payment.
Reset your Payment Schedule
If some of your monthly bills arrive when you are between paychecks, it can be hard to budget ahead to save enough money for those payments. Ask the creditor if you can change the payment due date to a day that is closer to your payday. Chances are it will be no problem, and you will have a better chance of making payments on time.
Earn Extra Income
Sometimes we find ourselves living beyond our means. Before we know it, we’ve racked up considerable credit card debt and are at risk for defaulting on regular bills, like a car payment or home loan. This not only puts us behind on the payment schedule, but it also risks our credit rating and may lead to late fees or penalties, such as an elevated interest rate. If the problem is temporary or can be brought under control, it may help to get a second job or earn part-time income to pay down or eliminate outstanding balances to leave only regular monthly expenses in the budget. Neighborhood lawn care and home-based customer service work are two options. A law school graduate delivered newspapers to meet his student loan obligation.
Don’t despair if you cannot pay one or more bills on time. Follow steps like those above to get your finances under control again.