You’d be hard pressed to run into a single person who doesn’t have some kind of debt.
I’ve seen plenty of friends run out of money before they reached the end of the month. And most of that money is spent on basic necessities, nothing fancy. After paying for the basics, they’re still trying to scrape together money to pay their student loans, hospital bills, and any other debt they’ve racked up over the years thanks to life’s little catastrophes.
One day I was having lunch with a close friend who had been having money troubles. In fact, she was on the phone at lunch with a bill collector asking if she could make a payment later that evening. “I honestly don’t know how much longer I can deal with this,” she says. By this, she meant payments on a car that was totaled by her soon-to-be ex-husband, medical bills from surgery, and charged off credit cards. She had no idea how she was going to find the money to pay that bill collector and was considering getting a payday loan to cover her upcoming expenses. To top it off, her $700 student loan payment was due in a week and she still had to find a new place to live due to her pending divorce.
My first thought after hearing all of this was what in the hell was she doing at this restaurant! Surely she could use this money to pay a bill. After my confusion faded I asked her a simple question –“How much money do you have?”. After rolling her eyes and mumbling that whatever she did have was not enough. I offered her a piece of advice. “Don’t stretch to make these payments. If you don’t have it, you don’t have it,” I told her. She looked completely confused. “What do you mean,” she says looking at me as if I’d had one too many glasses of wine.
That’s when I shared with her a concept I had learned a long time ago…shit happens. The number one way people find themselves trapped in the endless cycle of debt and bad credit, aside from spending money they don’t have, is by making more promises they can’t keep and failing to communicate their limitations to their creditors. Prioritize what bills matter the most and don’t let anyone (especially not the bill collectors) push you into paying them when you’re not ready. You tell them when the bill will be paid and establish a schedule that works for you.
Keep in mind that each creditor just wants their money. By being honest and telling them what to expect, they’ll be less likely to harass you and more cooperative when making payment arrangements. The best part is that it’ll be on your terms and can climb out of debt one payment at a time.