Help! I Can’t Pay My Bills. Part 2

This is a series written for those who are struggling mightily with their finances and tough decisions are being made about who will be paid and who will not be paid.  It is my hope that this series will provide practical steps that can be taken to walk out of this situation and into financial freedom.

Part 2  Ask Questions

It is extremely important to ask questions that help define the true root cause of the issue.

When I am counseling someone experiencing this sort of situation, I have a series of questions I ask to help me grasp the issues.  Here are some of the questions for which I am seeking answers.  These are not in any particular order.

  • "What was the cause of this situation?"  Ultimately, I am trying to determine if the current situation is the result of a long series of financial decisions or the result of a catastrophic event (job loss, medical issue without insurance, death of income provider, etc.)
  • "Is this an INCOME or an OUTGO issue?"  I want to see where the money is going.  That is why Part 1 is so important.  The spending plan will help you more clearly determine the answer to this question.  From experience, I have seen that it is an OUTGO issue in most cases.
  • "What are the required debt payments"  Is this unsecured revolving debt (credit cards) or is this installment debt on an asset (car, boat, motorcycle, etc.)?  This question will be key for Part 3 of this series.
  • "Is there something that can be sold?"  If there are items that can be sold, this needs to be fully investigated to understand how it can help the situation.
  • "What expenses can be stopped?"  Are there any "extras" in the OUTGO?
  • "How can INCOME be increased?"  An extra job or tons of OT may not be appealing, but living in a squalor of debt with no hope is even worse!  It is very important to investigate short-term ways to increase income to get out of the current late bill payment situation.

Readers:  What other questions would you add to this list?


  1. TurtleLover on November 11, 2008 at 9:10 am

    What a thought. Sounds so simple. We don’t want to ADMIT it even to ourselves! How many times do we hear (even from ourselves) I just don’t make enough money !
    Then we do step #1 and lookie there… maybe it IS an OUTGO issue!

  2. TurtleLover on November 11, 2008 at 9:12 am

    oops… INCOME :–)

  3. chris on November 11, 2008 at 8:40 pm


    Do you have a recommended % for the various budget categories? If you do, do you adjust it for with higher incomes or lower incomes?

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