There are many reasons why a well thought-out plan to rid yourself of debt may not be working for you right now. Perhaps you have some unexpected bills to pay, like medical bills or car repair bills. Now, each paycheck is getting divided between these unexpected expenses. So, instead of the path you laid out to becoming free of your credit card debt, your plan has derailed.
Perhaps, like many people, you have lost your job. If your income has been reduced, or worse, eliminated, you can’t expect to keep on track financially speaking. You have other concerns than paying off credit cards – like how to get food on the table.
Re-grouping after these unexpected downturns may take some time, but there are things you can do to put your mind at ease. Here are just a few suggestions for a struggling household to help get through these difficult times.
Eat Healthy – This may seem silly at first, but the truth is the better you feel the better you can cope with the stress. Start your day with a healthy breakfast. Eliminate fast food, which is too expensive anyway, and other quick snacks. Replace sugary drinks and food with wholesome drinks and food to boost your energy and get you through these days, weeks, months, and, yes, even years. Be sure the entire family is on board with this new-and-improved diet. Everyone will benefit when you serve and eat meals that contain only wholesome proteins, vegetables, fruit, eggs, dairy, and grain. Cook up big pots of bean soup, potato soup, and vegetable soup to warm the belly as well as the troubled soul.
Discuss Your Feelings – Talk to your family about how you feel about your money situation. Most people who financially support a family feel a great deal of sadness when they can no longer support their family the way in which they intended. Be honest with your family about what you can and cannot afford to buy. Don’t try to make everyone happy by trying to keep the status quo. You’re in this together, and you will get out of it together.
Quit Talking To Your Creditors – This may be exactly the opposite of what you might expect me to say, but, for your stress level, it may have to come to this. One call, and one call only, to each credit card company’s customer service number is all you need to make. With that one call, firmly tell the customer service person that you are no longer able to make payments due to an unforeseen financial hardship. Be clear and concise. They will want to discuss setting up a payment schedule and they will press you to commit to making regular payments. Repeat your earlier statement and end the call. That’s it. When you get back on your feet, call again and set up a reasonable payment schedule, one that works for you.
Never Talk To Collectors – First of all, there is no “debtors prison” so the idea that collectors can harass you by phoning you or sending you letters threatening you with lawsuits is absurd. Hang up the phone, tear up the letters, and don’t give it another thought. These outstanding credit card balances are farmed out to collection centers all over the world and their days are filled with trying to get financially strapped folks to buckle and pay up. They get a healthy percentage of that payment, so they will keep trying. You never have to discuss your financial business with a collection agency. There is no law that supports their claims. I am writing this from my perspective in the USA, so keep that in mind when you read this advice.
Get Some Financial Advice – Gaining a feeling of control may be the perfect thing to help you feel stronger, and happier. Sitting down with a financial planner, NOT a debt consultant or consolidator, is often a real stress reliever. Laying out your financial woes to an impartial person who has expertise in the area of budgeting is an excellent means for turning your household budget worries into a plan that will actually work. You may be missing some simple ideas that will turn things around a little for your family. People mired in the pit of their own financial despair are often not able to see any way out. Many financial planners offer a one-time consultation free of charge. Take advantage of that free visit to find out if you can trust the person enough to share personal information. Interview more than one adviser before you choose.
Of course, you are doing everything you possibly can to avoid drowning in debt, but sometimes we are handed a challenge that we didn’t expect, or want. When this happens, and your plan derails, take time to re-group, re-organize, and re-energize. Take care of your family needs first. Take a bit of time to connect with your needs, as well. Your budget will be waiting for you when you get back!