Deciding Which Bills to Pay First

When you do not have enough money to cover your family’s basic living expenses and pay all your creditors, you face some difficult financial decisions. During a crisis or anytime when family income is reduced, your spending habits must change. The sooner you change, the more likely your financial problems can be lessened. Your family should be part of the decision-making process because their cooperation is essential to carry out the plans.

When your bills exceed the money available to pay them, you will have to develop a revised payment plan in order to repay your debts. After you have a plan, you will have to contact the people to whom you owe money — your creditors — and explain your situation. Creditors will usually work with you to adjust your payments because they want their money.Your past experiences with creditors are important. If you have consistently paid bills when due, your creditors will be more cooperative than if you were late or did not make regular payments. Creditors are in the business of lending money and providing services. They want to keep your business, but they also want to get paid.

  • Gather the Facts
  • Who Gets Paid First?
  • Your Repayment Plan
  • Contacting Your Creditors

Remember that no matter how bad your situation may be, do not ignore your bills and creditors. Prompt action is very important; let your creditors know you are having trouble before you miss payments and the situation becomes worse. Once you have worked out a repayment plan, follow through with it and make the payments you promised to make. If you fall behind on your new commitments, creditors will be less understanding. If you fail to make the payments, creditors may hire a collection agency to make you pay.


Bucci, S. (2008).Credit Repair Kit for Dummies.

Deciding Which Bills to Pay First.

In Over Your Head. (2009) Ohio State University Extension.

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