Crazy Things to Do When You Can’t Pay The Bills

Living through money troubles, collection calls, delinquent notices and the fear of not being able to pay bills is not only scary but it makes us do some really stupid things.

I thought I’d give you a free copy of my book Eliminate Your Debt Like a Pro. It is in a PDF format so just click on that link to download it. The book is a free gift to you from me. I hope you enjoy it. It is packed with a lot of good advice, debt elimination techniques and things you should consider.

But I wanted to share with you a couple of get out of debt tips I was thinking about today.

As always, while some of my advice may sound a bit odd at times, there is always a reason why I say what I do.

Don’t Open Your Bills

If you have just realized that you are in deep trouble or you are in the middle of a debt panic attack, take a bill holiday. Just grab a shoebox and all the mail that comes in that looks like bills, toss it in the shoebox for one week.

Use the week to take a stress vacation and help to get your thoughts back to a place where you are mentally prepared to face your situation. You might even find it helpful to ask a close friend to sit down with you when you open the bills at the end of your bill vacation.

Once you can take that little break you can often face the situation with a new outlook or a new resolve and while the numbers may not be what you’d like to see, you can face the reality of what’s in the mail just a bit stronger than before.

Once you open the bills, you know I’m always here for you if you need to ask for advice or to lean on me. Don’t be afraid or shy to write to me for help.

Smile, Smile, Smile

Being in debt sucks. There is no other way to look at it. Even though I lived through my debt struggles and emerged out the other side and then used what I learned to help others, the pain of being in debt, suffering in silence and the shame I felt, sucked.

But what I learned was that just because my life was in the toilet was no reason I had to take it out on others. In fact, being in deep and dark debt made me appreciate the simplest things in my life. I learned to be grateful for someone holding the door or just going out of their way to be nice.

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A tremendous amount of the pain we feel when we are suffering in debt is internal emotional pain we create in ourselves. But it is real, it is debilitating and it is life changing. However, there are children around us, a loving spouse, friendly co-workers or maybe kind clients or customers that deserve a smile from us, a kind word or maybe a kind deed. All of those things are free and things we can share with the world as we recover.

The more good we do for others, the better we feel about ourselves.

Take Yourself to the Movies

If you are feeling overloaded at work, at home, from the bills and debts; give yourself some time alone. When the walls feel like they are closing in we all need to just take a mind break from the world, even for a couple of hours. That’s OK.

So you go and spend $10 on a movie. Your financial situation is not going to be radically different because you spent $10 on yourself. It won’t sink you but going and watching a movie will take your mind off your troubles for a couple of hours and give you some alone time to just escape from the pressure and stress you may be feeling. It’s okay to treat yourself in moderation and time to time when you are living through hell.

Be Kind to the Debt Collector

The debt collector is just trying to do their job, collect the debt you owe. Once you realize that the debt collector is just an hourly employee sitting in front of the computer dialer and being whipped to collect you can relax a bit when they call.

Use your smile when you are on the phone and try to make a friend of the collector. That does not mean that you should promise to make any payment you can’t afford to pay, just be nice.

When collectors were calling me I got to know some of them fairly well. And once I started my life helping people with debt problems I had many clients that were debt collectors.

I remember once I went to visit a national debt collection center and I noticed there were guards at the door. After visiting the center and looking at all the unhappy employees on the phones, I walked out wondering if the guard was to keep people out or the collectors in.

If a debt collector is being rude and mean, you don’t have to take that but you also don’t have to stoop to that level. Just be nice, explain that if they are going to behave rude and mean that you’ll have to disconnect and if they continue, say bye with a smile on your face and hang up.

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Forgive Yourself

Being in debt is the worst guilt trip you can be on. People feel shame, and pain like I did and feel like failures and losers. I felt that way.

Most money problems occur as the result of things that are beyond our control. Maybe the economy goes bad and your business fails, you lose your job, the factory closes, you got sick, your spouse left you, etc.

You need to be able to forgive yourself and instead of facing backwards trying to repair the past, you need to turn around, look forward and set your sights on repairing the future. The best way you can do that is to take a good honest look at what happened to you, almost like a financial autopsy, and learn from what you see.

When you are deep in debt you can be a loser or you can forgive yourself and move forward. I sure wish someone had shared that tip with me when I spent three years in a monochrome funk after my bankruptcy.

So here is my gift to you right now. If you are in debt and feeling like the world is closing in, just know that I love and care about you and if I was there with you I’d give you a big hug.


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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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3 thoughts on “Crazy Things to Do When You Can’t Pay The Bills”

  1. Thanks for the nice talk Steve but a hug won’t stop foreclosure car payments insurance buy food medicine phone cable internet or put close on my child’s back. Not trying to be negative but let’s face it 2 million house foreclosure’s 6 million underwater highest unemployment rate since the late 1920’s and 30’s and we do not qualify for president Obama’s refi. plan if your behind or not current we don’t stand a chance and if you already lost a house in divorce you don’t have a place to go you don’t want to go through that again. We may just freeze to death on a park bench or die from illness because we lost our health insurance as well and x-spouses are another source of stress and anxiety. WAKE UP WE ARE UP A CREEK WITHOUT A PADDLE! !!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry a hug don’t cut it. We need help and the first issue should have been the economy not heath care that never materialized. JOKE OUR LEADERSHIP IS A SICK JOKE BUT NOT TO THE WELL TO DO THEY WILL WEATHER THIS STORM. This country spent billions on war’s and ousting Gaddafii and countless lives of men and women and others maimed and injured. JOKE ABSOLUTE JOKE! We could have used that money to help our own people now but we give all our money and jobs to other countries. JOKE! I can’t write anymore I am sick to my stomach. Want a hug? want to go to a movie? Can’t afford it. Totally disgusted. Mike 10/25/11   

  2. THANK YOU! I needed to hear this..ALL of it! I hope to be able to pick myself up and dust myself off..and hopefully help others too..hopefully soon!


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