What Do You Do When There’s No Money For the Bills
You’re staring at a $0 balance on your bank account and holding the stack of bills that needs to get paid. Payday won’t get here in enough time. And you can’t afford to pay fro the bills AND the late fees.
If I had a nickel for every time that this used to happen to me, well I probably wouldn’t have run out of money and still had bills to pay! Running out of money is very scary, but especially when there are bills that need to get paid.
There are many different reasons for having this happen to you:
- Bank error – This happens a lot more than you think. If you suddenly find your bank account at $0, check for a bank error first.
- Emergency – Your car might need a big repair suddenly, or your heater may have blown, or your child had an emergency room visit. These can all happen so quickly and can really throw off a bank account… big time!
- Overspending and lack of a grip on finances – In this case, you might just not pay attention to your money. You might be playing credit card roulette: swiping your card and waiting to see if it gets declined or not.
Whatever the case may be that got you here, a big fat $0 balance isn’t going to pay those bills.
Here’s what you need to do when there’s no money for the bills.
1. Figure out what happened.
Where did something go wrong? Was it an issue of overspending? Was it a bank error? Or was it an emergency expense that threw you off?
Whatever it was that got you into this situation, figure out what it was as soon as possible.
2. Stop any more damage from being done.
Call your bank and put a hold on any transactions or checks that might be pending. This will make sure that no more charges will be made that will cost you more money in overdraft fees or non-sufficient fund fees. The last thing you need to do is overdraw your account by $1 and then owe your bank $50/day in overdraft fees or $30 per bounced transaction.
3. Prioritize the bills.
What bills need to get paid first? If you have a shut-off notice from the gas company, that would be a priority over something like the cable bill. You can live without cable, but not without heat.
4. Ask for an extension.
Once you’ve figured out what bills need to get paid first, call the companies that you owe money and plead with them for an extension to pay the bill without incurring a fee or having a service shut off.
If this is the first time that you’re doing something like this, chances are good that they will give you the extension. Plead your case and be as honest and heartfelt as possible. Remember that there is another person on the line and speak honestly.
Some places will let you get by with just a partial payment, which takes us to the next point.
5. Sell, sell, sell!
This is a tough step, but it’s necessary in dire times. Go through your house, top to bottom, and find items to sell to consignment shops or pawn shops.
It’s not a pleasant thing to do, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Sell everything that you can or don’t need. This will give you some much-needed cash-on-hand. This will get you through until payday and will help cover some of the bills.
6. Prevent it from happening again.
In order to make sure that you don’t get to this point again (because it’s literally the worst feeling in the world, I know), the best thing to do is to build a budget. You’ll need to be acutely aware of your finances and where your money goes.
It’s not as scary as it sounds, but it will take time to get all of your finances in order. The best thing that you can do for your money is to spend the time making a budget. If you don’t invest the time and energy into getting to know your money and where it goes, a situation like this will likely happen again.
Above all, just remember to try to stay calm. You will get through this.