Atlanta - Most of us have a paid a bill late from time to time. But when you are behind pay late, but use a strategy.
It's tempting to ignore the fact that you're in debt or bills are piling up, but that doesn't fix anything. Owning up to the problem does. First stop - sort out why this is happening. Are you overspending? Did you have an emergency? Or was this a one-time error?
Answer yourself honestly then put your bills into two categories. There's the 'can't live without' section - water, food, electricity, and the landlord. These are necessities. But your credit will be dinged if you skip debt payments like credit cards, mortgage, and your car loan.
So what do you do?
Start with those utilities. You have to pay them, but a simple phone call and you'll be surprised to find they will help put you on a payment plan if you're behind. And this won't impact your credit, if you stick with it.
Now your mortgage and your car - secured debt. If you default, you could lose the roof over your head and your ride to work. Until you get over this rough patch dip into savings if you have to cover these expenses.
And finally, while lateness on a credit card payment will hit your credit score negatively you're not losing food or shelter in the process. So, out of the three categories this comes in last.
But listen, this strategy won't help forever. This is just to help you get over a financial stumble. You have to get your financial act together. Spending more than you make won't last. Try www.powerplay.org. It's an online tool to help you lay out your own personalized debt repayment plan.