Being responsible for bills every month is a level of adulting we weren’t all prepared for. If you’re not careful, the number of bills you’re responsible for each month can creep up on you. You sign up for services and subscriptions one by one, until suddenly you’re having to dip into savings or use your credit card to pay for everything.
It’s a dangerous way to live. You’re one emergency away from spiraling out of control. The moment you notice your bills are getting too high, you have to make a change, otherwise, you might have to fix some real damage.
Start by figuring out what exactly you’re paying each month.
Go through all your bills and your credit card and bank statements to figure out what you’re paying each month. Make a list of all the bills and the amount of each. This digging can be tedious and can take a few hours, but you might see a few expenses you didn’t realize you were paying.
Decide whether each expense is necessary.
Now comes the hard part. Being real with yourself about what you should be paying for and what can go. Some things are obvious - you have to pay utilities and probably your cell phone bill. But there may be some expenses that are questionable, especially the subscriptions. Do you need the gym membership? Netflix and Hulu? Spotify and Apple Music?
Of course, you can justify keeping any of those bills. But, when you’re swimming in bills, you have to get rid of something so you can keep your head above water. Make the tough decisions about which bills you can cancel.
Make a plan to catch up.
If you have any bills that you’re behind on, highlight those so you can work toward getting caught up again fast. Prioritize bills that will cost you the most. For example, if you’re behind on your rent or mortgage, catch up on your housing expenses first to avoid becoming evicted or foreclosure. Work toward catching up on past due credit card bills so they won’t get charged-off and damage your credit.
When you can’t quite afford to catch up right away, you should talk to your creditors right away to see if you can make payment arrangement to bring your account back current again.
Set aside some bills to pay off.
Another way to get rid of a bill completely is to pay it off faster, this is especially true when it comes to credit card bills. Once you start cancelling some of your other bills and services, you’ll free up some extra money that you can put toward paying off your credit card balances faster.
Pick up some overtime, part-time work, or a side hustle to make more money.
You don’t want to have to bring in extra income just to afford your basic living expenses, but temporary side work can help you at least get caught up on your bills. Once you have everything under control, you can decide whether you want to keep working so you can build up your savings account or pay off some of your other debt.