You’ve heard of Sunday Night Anxiety—also known as Sunday Scaries or Sunday Night Dread—that overwhelming feeling when wrapping up the weekend and looking at the week ahead that a whopping 81% of those surveyed reported feeling. But do you also suffer from EOTMS (End Of The Month Syndrome)? OK, we made that one up, but the end of the month DOES often come with many deadlines—some frightening—when it comes to finances.
If you’re one of the 10% of Americans who are falling behind on your bills, you are not alone, and we have some tips to help you climb and conquer the mountain of bills.
Step 1: Breathe.
It’s A LOT easier to say than to do, but this is an important first step. When things feel overwhelming, taking a deep breath forces you not only to slow down, it also sends a signal to your brain that can help you feel a sense of calm. Those deep breaths can also give you a chance to think and avoid making any rash or emotion-fueled decisions you may regret later.
Step 2: Sort it out.
Write down which bills are due, the amount and the due date. Note any that are past due, as well as any that you have received final notices for. If you have paper statements or invoices, add a note with the contact information for each company, financial institution or individual you owe money to, as you’ll need this for a later step. Physically laying all of the bills out on a table with the ones that are due first (or that you are behind on the most) on the left side and the ones that are due soon on the right side.
Step 3: Keep an eye out for debt collector and consolidation scams.
As if you didn’t already have enough on your mind, fraudsters posing as debt collectors—or worse, companies claiming to help consolidate and get you out of debt—prey on those going through hard times. If you are behind on bills and need help, reach out to each biller directly to avoid falling for a debt collection scam.
Step 4: Ask for help.
After you have a list of all your bills, reach out to your financial institution to see if they offer financial coaching. Verve offers financial coaching to help you set goals, develop a basic budget, manage financial hardships, improve credit scores and save for the future. Meeting with a Verve team member can give you insight into the best approach to contacting each company for extended payment deadlines, as well as finding a debt consolidation plan that’s right for you.
Step 5: Contact your creditors (or those you owe money to).
You have your list of bills that are due or past due, a debt consolidation plan from your financial institution and now you are ready to reach out to those you owe money to. Prepare a very brief summary of your situation—two or three sentences—that states why you’re in financial difficulty and what you’re doing to fix it. Be honest, straightforward and stick to the facts without letting your emotions take over. By contacting them, it shows you are taking ownership of your debt and have the initiative and desire to make it right, which makes creditors more likely to help develop a payment plan.
Step 6: Get serious about your budget.
Whether you’ve been hit with hard times, or you overextended yourself and ended up in a tight spot financially at the end of the month, budgets are helpful for all financial situations. Now is the time to start—or get back on board—with a monthly budget.
Visit our blog for more budgeting tips and resources. If you are unable to make payments for loans or credit cards you have with Verve, call us at 800.448.9228 to discuss your options.