If you hit a financial rough spot and can’t pay your bills by their due dates, you’re not alone. Unexpected circumstances that prevent someone from making payments can happen to anyone at any time, and many responsible citizens struggle with medical expenses or unemployment. While it’s natural to feel stressed by financial hardship, the best way to deal with it is to face the problem. Don’t let stacks of unopened collection notices accumulate; open up all those emails and envelopes and make a plan.

Pay Secured Debts First

A secured debt is one in which a piece of property (such as a house or a car) guarantees payments on a loan. In order to avoid having your home foreclosed or your car repossessed, pay as much as you can on those debts. If you can’t pay the complete amount due, call the creditor and explain your situation. They may be willing to work out a compromise.

Pay More on High-Interest Debts

If you have several credit card bills, check their interest rates; it’s wise to pay more on the ones with higher interest. The higher the interest, the more you are paying in the end.

Review Your Possessions for Possible Sale

With a digital marketplace at our fingertips, your unwanted leather jacket or stamp collection can be easily sold on eBay for fast cash. The variety of possessions you can sell is enormous, and someone somewhere is probably searching for your exact item. You will get a far better price online than you will at your local pawn shop.

Check on Sources of Public Assistance

Many states and counties have assistance programs designed to help people who are experiencing temporary hardship. These programs help people pay for food, utility bills and medical bills and they sometimes even provide a small one-time cash grant. Check your city or county social services office for details.

Avoid Payday Loans

Most of the time, payday loans are set up to prey on people caught in temporary hardship, and they make many glowing promises of relief. In fact, their terms are exorbitant (sometimes amounting to more than 1,000 percent interest) and according to the National Consumer Law Center, “they trap consumers in terrible cycles of debt.”

As you put together a budget for future months, you will come across expenses where you can cut back. A quick glance through Craigslist may also give you new ideas for ways to earn a few extra dollars. Whether you earn more or spend less in the future, you can find a way out of your current financial pinch.