What to Do When You Can’t Pay Your Bills

Sometimes adulting is hard and terrifying, and being a college student who’s also trying to work enough to pay numerous bills can be extra difficult at times. There may be a time, be it now or in the future, that you realize you won’t be able to pay some of your bills. This can be a very scary realization, and so we’ve compiled a list of resources and tips for you in case this happens to you.
Don’t be embarrassed. Try to stay calm and don’t be embarrassed. These things happen, and as scary as it is, there are ways to make it through. Take a minute to ground yourself, breathe, and then continue on, think logically and thoroughly. This situation doesn’t define you as a person and doesn’t define your future.
Prioritize the essentials. Figure out the things you need to be able to continue on for the month – things like rent, electricity, water, etc. In this case, the essentials are the basic things you need to survive, the things that if taken away, could be detrimental to your health and safety.  
Make sure you can eat. Go through the food you currently have and see if you can make snacks or meals out of any of it. If you’re able to go to the grocery store, make smart decisions about what you’re buying. Make sure they’re things that will last, that are good for your body, and that are a good price. If you’re unable to afford any groceries, check out some local food banks and also apply for Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (food stamps) if you haven’t already. It may not help you instantly, but it will be extremely helpful once you have it in your possession.
Make sure you can get where you need to go. In order to continue making money you need to work. In order to work, you need a way to get to work.  If you have an ORCA pass from the school (which you should), you should be okay for any bus/light rail commutes you need to make. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS. This is free, so if you don’t have to drive & spend money on gas, don’t. (If for some reason you don’t have an ORCA card through the school, there are cheaper pass options out there – check out the low income ORCA pass deal called ORCA Lyft).
Prioritize the rest of your bills. Not all debt will have the same consequences left unpaid for awhile, so do your research and decide which bills need to be prioritized. Determine which bills you’re able to pay and which ones you can’t. Pay the ones you can and then call or email the companies you can’t. Let them know your situation and that you won’t be able to pay your bill on time. Ask if there’s anything they might be able to do to help you – a grace period, late-fee waiver, etc. At this point, anything will help.  
Ask for help. So you’ve done everything you’re able to do at this point. You’ve done good. Try to stay on top of things, pay things off as you can… Everything will be okay. And don’t forget that there are people and resources around you that you can go to for help. You’re not on your own!


Check out this great link for even more tips and steps and make sure you do some of your own research!

Good luck out there.