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If you’ve tried as many ways to save money as you can and exhausted your all energy on part-time jobs but still come up short on cash at the end of the month, there is help.
Ignoring calls and avoiding the mailbox isn’t a solution, it just makes the problem worse. If you need help paying bills ASAP, there are organizations to help you get through a number of rough patches and back on your feet again.
Bills That You Can’t Afford to Skip Paying
Even if you can’t afford all your bills, it’s important to know the ones you can’t afford to skip. These are expenses that if missed even once will negatively impact your quality of life and could prolong the cycle you’re already in.
The expenses you can’t afford to skip, in order, are basic food, housing, utilities, and anything you need to keep working (uniforms, transportation, etc.) If you have enough to cover these bills, you can safely get through one day to the next.
If you don’t have enough to cover them, pay what you can afford and find help to pay the rest.
Where to Find Help When You Need Help Paying Bills
When you need help paying bills, the best places to turn are to federal programs, private charities, and individual provider programs.
For a list of local programs available in your area call 2-1-1, the United Way’s free confidential resource hotline. You can speak with an advocate anytime, day or night, and find out local resources in your area that you may be eligible for.
There are also plenty of national federal programs and charities that offer aid in specific areas. Here are some of the most popular.
To avoid eviction or foreclosure, you’ll first want to communicate and be honest with your landlord or lender. There may be options they’re willing to grant you on their own. If they’re unwilling to cooperate, then these programs can assist.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers homeowners who’ve lost a job or experienced a significant decrease in income a reduction or forbearance period on their mortgage. HUD also offers refinancing and loan modification to make mortgages more affordable.
Gradient Gives Back Foundation awards a full year of rent or mortgage payments to deserving families nationwide. You can apply or nominate a deserving family on their website.
Salvation Army offers rent and utility payment assistance through its Pathway of Hope program. Services vary by community, so find your local Salvation Army to see all the resources available to you.
CoAbode is a non-profit home sharing program for single mothers. The organization pairs like-minded single moms who then share the expense of rent and can share other expenses such as groceries, babysitting, and carpooling.
St. Vincent de Paul offers mortgage and rent payment assistance. The organization offers a number of other services as well and sends trained visitors to an applicant’s house to assess the needs and appropriate assistance. Visit the St. Vincent de Paul website to find your local society.
Utility companies often have their own programs and partnerships to help customers struggling with payments. You can call or check your provider’s website for all your options.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) assists families with heating and cooling bills and related home repairs. You can check your eligibility and apply online.
Lifeline is a federal program offering discount phone and internet service to low-income individuals. Lifeline is available in every state and eligible customers get at least $9.25 toward their bill. You can find a provider on the Lifeline website.
Dollar Energy Fund is a non-profit providing utility assistance to customers of more than 40 utility companies across the country. Dollar Energy Fund also has connections with over 450 community-based organizations to further help limited-income households.
If you’re hungry now, reach out to the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479) to connect with emergency food providers in your area. For long-term help, here are some organizations and programs to look into.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides benefits to help low-income families add more healthy foods to their shopping list. SNAP benefits are available to applicants that meet certain income and work requirements and can be applied for online.
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a federally-funded, state-administered program that provides free healthy meals and snacks to children and teens in low-income areas while school is out of session. You can apply and find service sites on the SFSP website.
Catholic Charities provides access to healthy foods via their food banks, pantries, and community farms. Catholic Charities offers more than just food. You can apply for food, housing, medical assistance and more on their website.
Whether you have medical bills from a one-time emergency or ongoing bills due to a chronic illness, there are a number of organizations dedicated to lifting the burden of healthcare.
Medicaid is a federal and state program providing free or low-cost medical benefits to eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, seniors, and people with disabilities. If approved for Medicaid, you can retroact coverage up to three months prior to application.
Modest Needs is a non-profit offering grants for unexpected or emergency expenses. Modest Needs offers short-term financial assistance for individuals and families in crisis who are just above the income limits and are ineligible for most federal aid programs.
The Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation helps underinsured people with chronic and rare diseases with out-of-pocket medication costs. PAN provides financial assistance for costs associated with over 70 diseases.
Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) helps insured and uninsured individuals diagnosed with chronic illness pay medical bills, navigate insurance, resolve billing errors and more.
Patient Services Inc. (PSI) subsidizes the cost of health insurance premiums and copays for patients with certain chronic illnesses. PSI can also help with travel costs associated with treatment.
If you’ve missed some car payments, you can refinance or ask your lender for a loan extension and add those missed payments to the end of your loan term. If you can’t foresee being able to make those payments again soon, here are some options for assistance.
Working Cars for Working Families provides opportunities for low-wage workers to get access to a new or used car. Programs differ by area but include used car donations, special-term loans for those with credit disadvantages, and helping people save for a car through matched savings programs.
Vehicles For Change (VFC) receives car donations and sells them at a fraction of the true value to eligible low-income families. VFC also offers low-interest loans to help its families build credit on their purchases.
Charity Cars Inc. donates vehicles free of charge to struggling families to help them get back on their feet and become self-sufficient. Applicants register for a free account, earn votes from friends and family, and can then apply for a free car.
If you can’t make your credit card payment, first reach out to the credit card company and explain your situation. If you’ve experienced a financial hardship and ask for help, you could get some late fees waived and your monthly bill lowered.
For further help, here are some non-profit credit counseling organizations that offer debt management plans. Debt management plans differ from debt settlement, consolidation, or credit repair companies which can be costly to your wallet and credit score.
National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) is the largest and longest-serving non-profit financial counseling organization. NFCC member agencies offer counseling for credit card debt and education on a number of other financial topics.
Take Charge America can help with credit card, student loan, and housing debt through free credit counseling and debt management plans.
GreenPath is another credit counseling service that, in addition to online services, has more than 50 physical locations across the country you can visit for in-person help.
Help Paying Bills FAQs
There are a lot of assistance programs to apply for. While you’re working on getting assistance you’ll still benefit from knowing these helpful tips for paying your bills.
Which bill should I skip first this month if I cannot pay?
You already know you can’t afford to skip housing, utilities, food, and anything you need to keep working, but which ones should you skip once the money runs out?
First, cut out any discretionary spending on wants to keep from going into more debt. Then you can skip the credit card and medical bills.
Unfortunately, these bill collectors can be much more menacing than others and lead you to believe you should pay them first. However, if you have to choose between those bills and a car to get to work or the lights on in your house, it’s best to ignore them until you can maintain your necessities.
In what areas can I save money so that I have enough for my bills?
Cutting out discretionary expenses is the first and best strategy for affording your monthly bills.
- Eliminate eating out
- Avoid buying clothes and shoes
- Stop getting toys for kids
- Cancel unnecessary subscriptions
Look at your bank transactions and cut out anything that’s not essential to get by. These may seem a little extreme but remember it’s not forever.
What if I don’t qualify for government assistance?
If your income is too high to qualify for these federal and private programs then your issue may be more with budgeting than poverty.
Take the time to learn how to make a budget that’s right for you, track your spending, and avoid the repercussions that come with habitual late and missed payments.
Don’t Give Up When You Need Help Paying Your Bills
When you need help paying bills ASAP, it can be easy to throw in the towel and forget about your financial problems.
Don’t give up when it’s hard to pay your bills. Putting in the effort to get help now will pay off in the long run.
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