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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

When you can't pay your bills..

No matter how frugal you try to be, there may come a time when you simply can't make ends meet. What do you do when you're faced with termination of a utility because you can't pay the bill? It's happened to me a few times throughout my life and it wasn't in my lack of planning or because I was spending frivelously. The fact was plain and simple, I didn't have enough money. So what can you do?

Prevention is key when it comes to termination notices. You know when you're behind on a bill so it couldn't hurt to call, explain your situation and ask for payment arrangements. A lot of companies are willing to work with you but you need to contact them before their service people are at your door to disconnect.

You might be able to pay the bill off by raising some quick cash. Some great ways to get cash quickly is to sell things you're not using on eBay or Craigslist. If you have enough time, you could have a yard sale. Another idea is to take some things to the pawn shop. Pawn shops take all sorts of items from video game consoles to jewelry so that might be a good way to get some cash and you'll be able to buy your items back later.

If you have no luck with payment arrangements or selling things, perhaps you could borrow a bit from a relative or friend. Now, I know this isn't what you want to do, but in order to keep your gas, electric or water going, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Make sure you have a clear agreement of when the money will be paid back and stick to it. If you pay them back as promised, if the time ever comes in the future (Lord forbid) that you need a loan again, they'll be more likely to help you out.

As a last resort you can always look into getting help from social service agencies. I know the Salvation Army will help people out with their utility bills if they fall short. You can contact your local Department of Health and Human resources to see if they have an emergency assistance program that you may qualify for. There are income guidelines to meet of course but it can't hurt to try.


  1. I think you have very practical advise that can be very helpful to many that are despairing about their economic situation. Rather than simply worry and despair, people can take very concrete steps to solve their financial problems.
    Recently, I found it extremely helpful during the economic downturn to create a positive attitude by participating in the “upside to the downturn” community group including a weekly Starting Your Week on the Upside column. It’s a place where folks are sharing insights and stories about how they are creating and upside and improving their personal lives in spite of the downturn. Check it out:

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