Prioritizing Your Bills When You Lose Your Job

The information provided in this blog post is not specific to jobs lost due to the COVID-19 coronavirus mitigation efforts by government agencies. During this period, your country, state or province, and city have special programs available to assist those who have lost their job due to the COVID-19 coronavirus. The specific information for your locale is widely available on the Internet. Please refer to and utilize those resources. Helping you during this time of insecurity is their top priority.

There are numerous causes for losing your job and many are beyond your control. Regardless of the cause, losing your job nearly always results in the reduction or total loss of your income. Following that, you will most likely have a hard time paying your bills.

What do you do when your expenses exceed your income?

Quite simply, you need to prioritize your bills. Which bills must be paid. Which bills can you put off until you are on better financial footing. In prioritizing, you need to keep in mind some necessities of life:

  • Shelter
  • Food
  • Water
  • Heat

Bills You Need To Prioritize

Although you can make some adjustments to the order you pay bills based on your circumstances, it’s usually best to focus on paying your housing bills first, then paying what you can with the money you have remaining. So, let’s take a look at a sample prioritized list:

List At a Glance

  • Mortgage or Rent
  • Utilities
  • Food and Household Necessities
  • Insurance Premiums
  • Car Loan
  • Unsecured Loans
  • Student Loans

List Details

Mortgage or rent. If you fall behind on mortgage payments, you risk having the lender foreclose on your home. If you fall behind on rent, your landlord can evict you. Even though the foreclosure or eviction process can take months, it’s not something you want to risk happening.

Utilities. This typically includes gas, water and sewage, and electricity. The Internet may be included if it is needed for job search. Contact the utility company if you are having trouble making the payment.

Food and household necessities. Food, soap, and paper products are up there with shelter, heat, and hot water on the list of essentials. Here are some helpful tips in controlling this expense:

  • Make fewer trips to the grocery store
  • Buy store-brand products
  • Limit your purchase of packaged food products
  • Stop buying bottled water
  • Buy in-season fruits and vegetables

Insurance premiums. Having insurance is always smart because it provides financial protection against the worst things life can throw your way, such as illness, fire, or accidents. Paying your insurance premiums even when money is tight is a smart move.

Car loan. Your car gets you to and from work and lets you get to other important places, such as your kids’ school, the grocery store, and the doctor. If you have a car loan, it’s crucial to find a way to pay it each month. If you are unable to make your payments, contact the lender to let them know and ask for help.

Unsecured debt. Although you should make every effort to repay your debts, when money is tight, unsecured debt, such as credit cards and personal loans, should move to the back burner. While these debts typically have the highest interest rates, they also have the lowest impact on your daily life. You need to at least make the minimum payment. If you can’t, contact the lender.

Student loans. While you should make every effort to pay your student loans when money’s tight, the loans often have the most flexibility when it comes to repayment, particularly federal loans. Contact the lender if you cannot make your payments.

It needs repeating. If you are unable to pay a bill or loan payment, contact the company and let them know your circumstances and your desire to pay what you owe them. Most companies will work with you … as long as you contact them. The worst thing you can do is to not contact the company and just ignore the bill.

You eat every day to nourish your body,
you also need to nourish your mind and soul

with positive inspiration and motivation.

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Published by W. M. Brown

I am a retired U.S. expat living in Ecuador. I was a business owner for 32 years before retiring in 2012.

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