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5 steps if you can’t pay your bills

At some point in life, most of us encounter financial hardship. It can leave us struggling to pay the rent or mortgage, cover a loan or credit card bill — or simply make ends meet.

For times like these, 5 Numerica branch managers weighed in with expert advice.

  1. Focus on the essentials
  2. Ask for help
  3. Use a budget
  4. Communicate with creditors
  5. Put your plan into action

1) Focus on the essentials


Joe Steele, Five Mile (Spokane) branch manager

When financial struggles weigh you down, every phone call from a debt collector can feel like the most important priority.

While paying your credit card or medical bills is important, you have to take care of your essential needs first. This means providing food, basic utilities, housing, and transportation for you and your family. After all, you can’t expect to navigate financial hardship without a roof over your head and food on the table. Step one is to prioritize the essentials.


2) Ask for help


Sharon Cook, Wenatchee branch manager

Some people attempt to solve all of their financial problems on their own. It can be difficult or embarrassing to talk about money struggles. But this is not something you have to figure out alone. There is a wealth of expertise and resources available at your disposal.

At Numerica, your financial well-being is the heart of our mission. We can answer questions and connect you with our partners like GreenPath. GreenPath provides free, personalized counseling to help you find solutions after a financial crisis. Whether setting up a budget or reviewing options for consolidating debt, GreenPath can help.


  • Call a GreenPath counselor today at 855.400.3710 for one-on-one counseling or info on a number of money topics.

3) Commit to using a budget


Tammy Androes, Post Falls branch manager

When you don’t have enough money to pay your bills, why make a budget?

Even when money isn’t coming in, a budget is a map for your finances. It is a way to prioritize your bills and track your spending. It tells you where to apply your limited resources — and areas to cut back on. When funds start to come back in, your budget provides clear direction for where the money should go.

I’ve had many people tell me that budgeting stresses them out. But when you find a good partner to help you set up a budget, it can be very reassuring. When you have clarity and a plan of action, you actually experience peace of mind. With a budget, you are in control of your finances.


4) Communicate with creditors

Marco Espinoza, Gage (Kennewick) branch manager

When you owe money, your natural instinct might be to disappear. In the long run, this only harms you.

While it may seem overwhelming, proactively reach out to creditors and explain your situation. When you do this, you may learn of programs or payment options available to you. This not only provides possible pathways, but it could also help protect your credit from further damage.


5) Put your plan into action


Tessla Kissire, Coeur d'Alene branch manager

OK, pep talk time.

Any financial hardship is going to require your grit and determination. To improve your well-being, commit to putting in the work. Ask for help. Start flexing those budgeting skills. Put the plan in action.

For a season, do without some of your favorites. Allocate every spare dollar toward your bills. You can do this. Your best life is ahead, and it will be worth it.

Along the way, know that we are cheering for you, and we are here to help!


Remember, we are here for your financial well-being. Talking about money struggles is important, and we make it super easy.

Questions for us? Visit a branch or call 800.433.1837.

Here’s the legal stuff: This article is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of a financial advisor, tax professional, loan representative, or similar professional. The examples provided within the article are for example only and may not apply to your situation. Since every situation is different, we recommend speaking to a professional you trust regarding your specific needs.

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June 22, 2024