Doing Right With Past Due Bills

By Casey McClurkin

You are making progress in your recovery -- congratulations! However, in all likelihood, your financial situation is less than what you would like it to be. You may owe money to a friend or family member, you might have past due bills, credit card debt could be piling up -- can you relate?

To get a clear understanding of what you must do, you have to know where you’re going. The first step in getting on firm financial footing is: know your outcome.

Write it down!

Start putting a plan into place to achieve that outcome. It’s critical for you to know exactly what you owe, to whom and when. Make a list of all your creditors (for example, the power company, the hospital or a credit card company), the creditor’s phone number (customer service), how much you owe, the due date, the interest rate or late fees you are being charged, action needed and outcome.

Prioritize

Now you can prioritize your bills by amount due, interest rate or how much it affects your life -- if your electricity is going to be turned off, that’s a good place to start! You might even decide to prioritize on how a particular bill makes you feel. If you have a negative emotional reaction to any bill, that’s another one to pay off quickly.

Acknowledge Your Dues

Finally, it’s time to start calling the people or companies you owe. Tell them what you're doing. Acknowledge you know you’re late and you want to make it right. Take responsibility and negotiate a payment plan that feels reasonable and achievable to you and is also fair to your creditor. Something like “Thank you for taking my call. I am past due on my payments to (company) and I want to make it right. However, I am unable to pay 100 percent of the balance due today. Is there a payment plan we can arrange?”

It may take a long time or you may find that you’re able to tackle these bills and debts quickly. The key is to accept responsibility and do what you can with integrity and honesty. Progress can be made one step at a time. You are now starting on your journey to financial recovery. How does it feel?

"The key is to accept responsibility and do what you can with integrity honesty."

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