Categories: Unemployment

Unemployed and Can’t Pay Bills? 10 Steps to Take Now

For tens of millions of people across the country, the COVID19 pandemic has shut down workplaces, closed small businesses, and caused chaos with finances and bills. Many people find themselves looking at stark choices between keeping a roof overhead and food on the table, or even how to afford their medications when their health insurance stopped when their job did. It’s easy to panic, especially here in Florida where our unemployment system fell down on the job, the stimulus checks may not have arrived yet, and small businesses were muscled out of SBA loans by companies with access to capital.

It’s a lot to deal with, but panic can make you do some things that end up biting you later on, such as taking high interest consolidation loans, HELOC, or even tapping your retirement funds for bill money. If you are unemployed and can’t pay bills, there are some steps that you should take right now.

Do These Things When You Are Unemployed and Can’t Pay Bills

  1. Look into a gig. Uber, Doordash, Instacart, and other gig economy jobs are out there, if you feel that you can safely work them. It might not be much, but even a little extra can help.
  2. Apply for everything you can possibly qualify for – SNAP, TANF, WIC, rent assistance, even the local food bank. You need help, and while that social safety net looks to be full of holes, SNAP can make the difference between eating and not eating.
  3. Talk to your landlord or your mortgage holder if you can’t come up with the next month’s payment. Landlords may be willing to let you pay extra to catch up, or allow you to make partial payments, and some banks hare having moratoriums on mortgages for as long as 90 days.
  4. Car notes are tricky, but it’s not as if car finance companies are going to be surprised at your situation. Again, talk to your finance company and let them know your situation. You may also be able to rent a car to drive for Uber, Lyft, or other companies that need drivers via multiple companies.
  5. Pare down. While a lot of people are sitting on their cash right now, eBay is still open and you can sell your excess stuff or even your own finds online.
  6. Cut expenses by cutting the cable cord and going to streaming or switching to a less expensive mobile phone plan. Stop getting the subscriptions that you’ve been too indifferent to cancel – those repeating charges add up.
  7. Talk to your loan servicer about student loans and whether or not they can be deferred or if you can enter into a hardship program or forbearance.
  8. Cook at home instead of ordering out. By the end of the pandemic, we are all going to be sick of our own cooking. However, cooking at home saves money and you get to have leftovers.
  9. Make a pile of bills and sort them into stuff that has to be paid, stuff that you can put off, and stuff that can go a long time without being paid. Shelter, food, medicine, and other necessities of life come first.
  10. Don’t think that the courts are not open – they are. Creditors may decide that now is the time to file lawsuits over back debts. If you receive a summons or notice, take it seriously! Ask for a continuance, or better yet, get an attorney to help you.

Thinking about Bankruptcy?

Of course, when you are unemployed and can’t pay bills, ten talking points might be a mountain that you can’t get across. No money means no money, and not all the renegotiating in the world is going to help. That’s when it’s time to take a serious look at filing for bankruptcy. At Van Horn Law Group, we offer a no-money-down option because we know how much better a bankruptcy can make an untenable financial situation. Whether you are an individual or a business, bankruptcy often makes a great deal of sense for the following reasons.

  1. The automatic stay immediately puts a stop to all collection actions. Credit cards, car notes, leases, loans, and everything else comes to a screeching halt.
  2. In the case of a Chapter 13 (Chapter 11 for businesses) debt is ‘reorganized’ into a manageable size and timeline. You may be able to keep your car, your home, and of course you will keep your exempt property.
  3. Chapter 7 – a liquidation bankruptcy where there are few or no assets – requires a means test. You’ll be able to keep exempt property and your creditors will get very little. There’s a lot of pressure to push some Chaper 7 filers into reorganization, but with a good attorney and a truthful filing, you are discharged faster and have no further payments hanging over your head.
  4. Once your bankruptcy is discharged, your debts are over. They can’t rise up and shamble after you, asking for money. They have been paid according to the order of the court.

Bankruptcy is nothing to enter into lightly, it’s a complex legal filing that takes the expertise of an experienced bankruptcy attorney to get the best result. Van Horn Law Group has the experience and the understanding that nobody wants to file for bankruptcy when they’re unemployed and can’t pay bills, but that they need our support in a bad time. We’ve got your back.

We Can Help!

At Van Horn Law Group, we have over a decade of experience in helping people with debt. Whether or not you need bankruptcy, someone to help you renegotiate your debts, or just advice on down to deal with debt on your own when you’re unemployed and can’t pay bills, your first consultation is free. Even though our offices are closed, we are holding consultations via telephone or video conference, and are still able to carry out the normal functions of handling your legal issues. Call us and let’s get started on finding a way out of your debts!

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Unemployed and Can't Pay Bills? 10 Steps to Take Now
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If you are unemployed and can’t pay bills, there are some steps that you should take right now.
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Van Horn Law Group
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Chad Van Horn

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