tips for when you’re behind on your credit card payments

Last week we walked through the process of what happens if you have credit card debt and can’t pay (read Part 1 and Part 2).  Today, we’ll offer some additional tips on how to handle that situation…

  • Pay For The Essentials – Have you ever noticed that when smart people are put in pressure-packed situations, they can really make dumb decisions?  This is what happens when people start getting hounded by collectors.  Before you pay your credit card bill, make sure you pay for the essentials…food, shelter, transportation, utilities, etc.
  • Don’t Panic – Take a step back and take a deep breath.  Like we’ve said, if you panic, you don’t think straight and will make poor decisions.
  • Address The Core Problem – Figure out why you’re in this mess in the first place.  Learn from it, so it doesn’t happen again.  If you put a band-aid on a broken leg to stop the bleeding, you’ve stopped the bleeding but you haven’t addressed the bigger issue.  What’s the bigger issue for your spending?
  • Take Notes – If you’re talking with a credit card company or a collector, take good notes about the conversation.  Dates, times, the person you talked to, what was discussed…keep good records of all that.
  • Get All Deals In Writing – If you make a deal or a settlement, get it in writing.  I had a mentor always tell me that “a paper trail is a safe trail” and “if you don’t have it in writing, it didn’t happen.”  Remember, you’re one of millions of customers so chances are they’ll “forget” what your agreement was unless you have it in writing.
  • It’s Not Going Away – You can’t just put your head in the sand and think the credit card company will forget about this and stop hassling you.  An outstanding debt will continue to tag along for the rest of your life, so just address the situation and get the mess cleaned up.
  • Do The Right Thing – I understand people go through rough patches in life where finances are tighter than usual.  But once things are stable and secure and your finances are more consistent, you should always do the right thing.  If you owe someone or some company a debt, you should pay it.

YOUR 2 CENTS – Any other tips or ideas you have for what to do when you’re behind on your credit card payments? 

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