Prioritize Your Debts

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Prioritize Your Debts

For the unemployed, getting by will require a new, tightened budget. Prioritize your bills and pay those most necessary for your family: food, utilities and shelter.

Failing to pay any of your debts can seriously affect your credit rating. However, if you stop making your mortgage payments you could lose your house. Whenever possible, any income available after paying for food and utilities should be used to pay your monthly mortgage payments. If your employment income has been stopped or reduced, first consider eliminating or reducing your other expenses (such as dining out, entertainment, cable, or even telephone services). If that does not provide enough income, consider using other financial resources like stocks, savings accounts, or personal property that may have value like a boat or a second car. Take any responsible action that will save cash.

In addition to speaking with your lender, you may want to contact a nonprofit consumer credit counseling agency that specializes in providing help in restructuring credit payments. Credit counselors can often reduce your monthly bills by negotiating reduced payments or long-term payment plans with your creditors. The majority of credit counseling agencies are reputable and provide their services free of charge or for a small monthly administrative fee tied to a repayment plan. Beware of credit counseling agencies that offer counseling for a large upfront fee or donation.


When you call a consumer credit counseling agency, you will be asked to provide current information about your income and expenses. Make sure you ask if the agency has a charge before you sign any documents!


Preserve Your Good Credit

Do not underestimate the importance of preserving your good credit. Your future ability to purchase certain items, rent or buy a home, and complete other transactions often requires a credit check. Consumer credit agencies and your lender can help you explore solutions to keep your credit from getting blemished.

Maintaining good credit is even important for job hunters. When you apply for a job, the employer probably will check your credit report to determine:

  • whether you have been sued
  • have filed for bankruptcy
  • or have trouble paying your bills

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