Are you drowning in debt?
Are you struggling to pay your bills, including your mortgage? Do you have bad credit? Are creditors calling you every day? You've done everything you can think of, including selling some of your belongings, to make an effort to make ends meet and get the bills paid. But no matter what you do and how much you try to pay everything, it just isn't enough. You're only making the minimum payments on your bills, but every month a few unpaid bills remain. You feel as though you have nobody to turn to; nobody to lend a hand or give you a loan…and it’s taking its toll on your mental health and the health of your relationship.
There are several simple things you can do to try to work out a solution. Maybe something unexpected happened in your life and you just need a break. The following list offers suggestions to getting your financial life back on track.
- Create a Budget - Make a list of your income and your expenses. Prioritize the list by placing things that absolutely have to be paid on time (mortgage or rent and car payments) at the top of the list, and continuing through to things that won't be earth shattering if they're not paid on time (credit card bills, cable, and phone bills). Look for ways to decrease your spending, such as buying generic brand items, skipping your trip to the coffee shop, and packing your lunches. Make an educated guess at how much you spend on those little extra each month and budget that amount to your bills.
- Call Your Creditors - Even if you know you cannot pay your bills; perhaps you just lost your job and have no income, calling your creditors and explaining your situation may get you a payment plan agreement, waiver of late fees, or authorization to skip a payment.
- Call or Visit Your Bank - Go to your bank and get information on consolidation loans or home-equity loans or lines of credit. But beware! These loans are secured by your home. There are pros and cons to consolidation loans. Although interest rates at much lower than credit card loans, the end result is if you end up not being able to pay your consolidation or home-equity loan, you could lose your house.
- Think of everything - Don't overlook things like homeowners insurance, health insurance, and health insurance. These things are vital. Do not let your coverage lapse. Get in touch with your agent and ask for suggestions on how you can save money by reducing coverage, but make sure payments for these things stay current.
- If all else fails, you may need to consider bankruptcy. There are different types of bankruptcies; Chapter 7 bankruptcy is consider liquidation, and Chapter 13 is considered reorganization. Keep in mind though, not all debt is dischargeable, and not everyone qualifies.
Maybe you’ve considered filing bankruptcy, but you can't get over the embarrassment and the feelings of failure. Additionally, you may not know how or where to begin. First, go over all of your bills with your spouse or partner and make a list of your creditors and the balance owed to each. Next, find a bankruptcy attorney. Make sure they come highly recommended from someone you know has worked with them in the past, or be diligent and do your research. The sooner these things are in place, the sooner you can focus on getting past the embarrassment you feel, and the sooner you will be paving your way to a solution.
Once you have these things in place, you can focus on getting back on solid ground emotionally. Embarrassment may be present; however, you don't have to tell people about your financial situation, and you can work to improve your mental well-being. Embarrassment can be overwhelming, especially if you are concerned about the impact it of your financial situation on approval of others, such as your parents or your spouse. Additionally, maybe you can no longer afford to take mini-vacations with your friends, or go out to dinner with other couples, as often. That's okay. That's part of working through this issue.
Bankruptcy is a big deal, but things will turn around and life will get back to normal eventually. Good people experience unexpected events in life, and there is no shame in seeking help – both financial help AND the help of a good therapist to deal with the stress and impact it can have on your relationship. Stay focused and remember how great life can be when you don’t have the pressure of debt on your relationship, and think about things and times and people that make you happy. Your embarrassment is understandable; however, you are taking steps and making progress to change the course of your problems and looking towards a better future. The word for that is "success", not "embarrassment".
If you need help coping with embarrassment or are questioning your sense of self, contact the professionals at the Relationship Center of Orange County. Our staff is comprised of wonderful people who are trained to help you deal with your issues. Call 949-220-3211 today to make an appointment, or schedule online at our website. There is no need to suffer and go through this situation by yourself, or to let debt or bankruptcy damage your relationship with your spouse or partner. Many times it is helpful to talk with someone who can help you by providing a different perspective to your situation or by teaching you ways to deal with your embarrassment and get your relationship back on track.