Something has happened. Illness, redundancy or a large emergency spend, and now you can't afford to pay your bills this month. It is a horrible place to be in but there are still things that you can do to survive this month and the next few months. Here are 6 things to do when you can't pay this month's bills.
Think positively even when you can't pay this month's bills
Remember that this isn't permanent and you will get out of this situation. As tempting as it is to bury your head in the sand, instead you will need to pull yourself together. Remind yourself that you can and you will get through this. Having a positive attitude will put you in the right frame of mind for dealing with the issue and helping you to come through to the other side.
Compile a list of your bills and due dates
By compiling a list of your bills, the amounts you will need to pay and the due dates, you will start to regain control. With this list you can then start to prioritise – what are the absolute essentials that must be paid, and where can you let things slip this month and get back on track next month? Having this information will let you see how much money you need to make up the rest of your shortfall. You can do this a number of ways, explained below.
Cut back when you can't pay this month's bills
A lot of cut backs you make mean that you won't see the results for a few months – such as switching your energy supplier. Look at things you can cut back on immediately to see a saving from the start. Some suggestions include:
- Cancel your subscription services or pause them. This includes Netflix, tv package, your gym membership, your mobile phone contract and more. If you can't cancel or pause them look at downgrading them. When you are out of this rut you can look at introducing them back.
- Smoking – give up entirely or cut back how much you smoke.
- Going out – if you can't afford to pay this month's bills then you can't afford to go out. At all. Invite friends over instead and ask them to bring something along.
- Take aways – again, if you can't afford to pay your bills this month then you can't afford a take away, even with a great discount code
- Grocery shopping – scale this back completely and look at what you currently have in your fridge, freezer and cupboards. You might be surprised at what you find! Then meal plan to make the most of the items you are buying. You can also rely on apps to get some freebies – I love Shopmium and Checkout Smart.
- Bring your own lunch to work to save on your meal deals or other things you buy for work.
- Don't buy new stuff. Remember this is temporary and you can go another month or so without a new Whatever. You could even go one step further and return items that you have recently purchased.
- 10 easy ways to save money that we should all be doing
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- My 6 week free money making course
Pool your resources
Do you have some gift cards you have been saving? Loyalty points for Boots and Sainsbury's? Tesco Clubcard coupons? This is the time to use them! You might have been saving them for something, but you need to use them now. Use them towards essential spending – there is no time for luxuries this month. Do you have an empty credit card that you will be able to pay off next month? Resorting to credit cards shouldn't be your first port of call, but if you can manage your payments and try to pay it off before any interest in incurred then they are an excellent resource.
The same goes for savings – if you have savings and you can't pay this month's bills, then you need to access your savings. You can look at replacing them once your financial situation has stabilised.
Speak to the companies you need to pay if you can't pay this month's bills
After you have prioritised your bills you will need to talk to the companies involved to see if they can help you. A simple phone call (remember to look for cheap or free calls) could see you downgrading your TV package if you are still in contract, giving you a payment break or freezing interest for a month. It is a humbling experience but the companies involved can't help you if they don't know about your situation. It is far cheaper for them to downgrade your package than to spend months in collections chasing you for the money you owe.
Earn some cash quickly if you can't pay this month's bills
Because this situation is temporary you might need to take some drastic actions. You need things that are going to give you cash this month, not a survey website that will pay you in 6 months once you have reached £100.
- Sell your smart phone to release cash (or use it to earn extra cash) and use a simple pay as you go phone (if you're still in contract then simply stick your SIM card in a cheap £20 phone for now).
- Sell items on Facebook – it is quick, there are no fees and you could have cash in your hands within a few hours.
- Join Prolific Academic – you can withdraw your survey earnings once they reach £5 and I regularly make £40 a month on there.
- Take part in free daily draws. I have won over £120 cash and £50 in Amazon vouchers for free.
- Sell any unwanted giftcards you have.
- Declutter your items for cash.
- Make money during your lunch breaks – this is a great way to utilise that time.
- Earn £50 from this one, really simple mystery shop.
After you have managed to get through your difficult month, it is time to assess what you can do so that you don't end up in this situation. Creating an emergency fund, making some extra cash (How would earning £100 extra per month impact on your budget? What about £500 or even £1,000?) or budgeting more effectively will help to stop this happening again.