3 Steps to Take When You Can’t Make Your Minimum Payments

Written By Mary Beth Eastman
Last updated December 1, 2020

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January 24, 2018

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Discovering that you can’t make the minimum payments on your credit cards or loan debts results in an uneasy, stressed-out feeling. Neglecting to make those minimum payments can also hurt your credit in a big way. Remedy this problem and decrease your debt by following these tips.

The ideal solution is to increase your income so that next month you can make the minimum payment and pay even more down on your debt. Get a second job, even if it means you have to work evenings or weekends for a while. If this is impossible because of childcare needs or other responsibilities, do something closer to home to earn extra money. Shoveling your elderly neighbors’ driveways and sidewalks after a snowstorm, babysitting and dog walking are all things that most people are capable of doing to earn extra money. Other ideas include teaching someone new skills, such as a how to speak a foreign language, operate a computer, cook or sew.

Have a giant garage sale to remove unnecessary items from your home and make extra money. Many people collect items such as old coins, stamps, comic books, Barbie dolls or other collectibles, and then lose interest in the hobby. Post ads to sell your collection, or visit a shop that will buy it. Gather all your outdated gold jewelry and sell it. Think of impulse buys you have purchased that you no longer need or like. Surely there is someone you know who would like to purchase your designer purses or shoes, that fancy barbecue grill, electronic gadget or other item you thought you couldn’t live without.

Call the credit card company or bank and ask if you can make smaller payments for a few months. If a financial emergency caused you to be short on cash, such as an expensive car repair or a trip to the emergency room, explain this to the company and see if you can negotiate. Often, the lender will agree to smaller payments as long as you consistently make them each month. If the person you talk with isn’t willing to do this, ask to speak with the manager. Although this smaller payment will reflect on your credit, the company will add a note stating, “paying as agreed.” This doesn’t look nearly as bad to future creditors as no payments at all.

An extra job, a garage sale or other money-making project may cut down on your social or leisure time, but getting your debts caught up and paid off will reap its own rewards by helping you have peace of mind.

About the Author

Mary Beth Eastman

Mary Beth Eastman serves as the content manager for Simple. Thrifty. Living, where she is dedicated to helping readers use money and credit wisely. Mary Beth believes that access to the right financial information paired with a growth mindset are essential tools for getting out of debt and building wealth. Mary Beth has a degree in Journalism from Bowling Green State University and has focused her 20-year journalism career on putting readers front and center, carefully considering their concerns and presenting information that will help them in their everyday lives. She has won numerous statewide journalism awards. Her writing on personal finance as been featured on numerous websites in addition to Simple. Thrifty. Living, including Huffington Post and Lexington Law blog. Mary Beth resides in Pittsburgh, Pa., with her family and two rescue dogs.

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