We Finally Caught Up on Our Bills

We Finally Caught Up on Our Bills - My Life, I Guess
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This week was significant in my financial life. For a reason that used to be completely insignificant to me.

We finally caught up on our bills!

I imagine some of you reading this won’t understand why this is a big deal. I mean, paying your bills is pretty boring to think about, let alone write about. But I also imagine some of you understand all too well why I feel the need to share.

Before I was laid off and unable to find full-time work, I was always on top of our bills. I was one of those people that would pay the bill within a day or two of receiving it, opposed to waiting for the due date. It was easier for me that way.

But when there was no money in my account, due dates were anything but easy.

At first, things were okay, but it didn’t take long before we found ourselves living paycheck to paycheck.

Keeping a roof over our heads and food on our table had to come first. And some months, even making that happen was a struggle.

HOW WE MANAGED WHEN THINGS WERE TOUGH

We managed as best we could by staying organized. I recorded every due date and amount for each bill or regular expense on our kitchen calendar so we always knew where we stood.

Each payday, we’d look at what expenses we had coming up and compare that to the amount of money we had. Some weeks we were fine. Others we were not. (My husband works shift work and I was only working part-time, so our hours – and therefore our pay – varied each week.)

When the numbers didn’t work out, we’d pick a bill or two to purposely pay late so that we could spread it out over more than one paycheck, and make sure we had enough money to get by.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long before paying a bill a bit late to turned into paying it a month or two late.

I constantly read articles about how to get back on track, hoping to discover something new. But they didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know or wasn’t already trying to do.

We were organized. We prioritized. We cut back on everything we could. And I tried desperately to find a job to earn more money.

Thankfully, we managed to stay on top of our bills enough to avoid having our services cut off.

But I still felt out of control whenever we couldn’t pay a bill on time or not at all.

Paying late fees sucked.

I felt ashamed the odd time we got a notice or collection call.

It was embarrassing to talk about because I was sure that people thought we were just being lazy. Or that we were spending our money on lavish things instead of paying our bills. I assure you, we were not.

IT TOOK US 6 MONTHS TO CATCH UP

I thought we’d be back on track as soon as I was back to work full time. I certainly didn’t think it’d take us 6 months!

But we didn’t fall behind overnight, and we weren’t going to catch up that quickly, either.

We made paying off all the bills a priority, but there were other needs that we were neglecting or going without all this time, too. Things like minor car maintenance, and replacing my glued-back-together winter boots.

It also didn’t help that because I was making money again, we had to add my student loan back to our list of monthly bills.

CELEBRATE THE (SMALL) WINS

We accumulated a lot more debt when I was unemployed/underemployed than just our bills. It will probably take us years for our finances to recover from it. (Not to mention the debt I already had…)

So, why am I so excited about paying our bills? It’s not something you typically really think about, let alone “celebrate”.

But if you’ve struggled at all to pay your bills, you’ll understand.

I believe that when it comes to your finances it’s important to celebrate the wins – no matter how small they might seem.

For me, this was a big win. We accomplished the first step (of many) towards becoming debt free and meeting our financial goals. And now we can focus on what’s next.

YOUR TURN: What financial wins – big or small – have you accomplished lately?

Paying your bills is boring. But when you\'re struggling financially, it\'s also a burden. Find out how we finally caught up on our bills. We Finally Caught Up on Our Bills - My Life, I Guess  struggling financially | can\'t pay our bills | how we caught up on our bills | living paycheck to paycheck | how to get ahead on bills | how to tackle debt
 

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Amanda

More about Amanda

Amanda is the owner and creator of My Life, I Guess... a personal finance and lifestyle blog that started back in 2013. She strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes and making the most of it.

13 thoughts on “We Finally Caught Up on Our Bills

  1. Avatar
    Sylvia @Professional Girl on the Go

    I am so happy for you Amanda!! I know you guys were under a lot of stress but you did it and there is nothing but growth and more wins ahead! Can’t wait to read about the next one.

    Reply

  2. Avatar
    Jane

    I completely understand! After a nasty car accident and multiple surgeries, my husband was out of work for nearly a year in 2014-2015. We fell far behind on bills for quite awhile. We’re still playing catch up on medical, but it wasn’t until mid-2016 that we got a handle on our regular bills and were back on track. Very stressful. I understand the accomplishment, congrats!! As for small or big financial wins, not much right now, selling a few things here and there has net us around $300 so far this month. I’m happy with that.

    Reply

    1. Amanda
      Amanda

      Jane, I’m sorry to hear that you had to experience this, too. I’m glad you got a handle on it now! And congrats on the extra $300

      Reply

  3. Avatar
    Jack @ Enwealthen

    One of the most surprising things to me with my recent layoff was suddenly we qualified for all sort of government assistance programs – food, utility bills, health insurance, etc. What’s different this time around is I have a family, where my previous 2 layoffs I was single. I’m fortunate I’ve been able to save a significant emergency fund, but even the largest fund can be wiped out by a big enough emergency. Hopefully we won’t need them, but it’s good to know they’re there.

    Reply

    1. Amanda
      Amanda

      I was extremely fortunate that I was with my husband when I was laid off, as he supported us. Things would have been so much harder if I was single. I had a small emergency fund that lasted quite a while. But without being able to replenish it, clearly it ran out. Building that back up will be the next step for us, I think.

      Reply

  4. Avatar
    Cece

    This is good news! How stressful and terrible it must be to simply not have enough money to pay for life basically. You had to dig yourself out of a whole so it’s not surprising it took that long. Now that you are caught up, then hopefully you can start to focus on saving and enjoying more things too. I’m not a fan of bills. Ugh. But, I don’t ever take for granted how lucky I am that I can pay them.

    Reply

    1. Amanda
      Amanda

      Thanks Cece. I absolutely took it for granted before. When I was struggling before, there was always enough to cover my basics and I didn’t realize that it meant I was actually doing okay. Now I know better.

      Reply

  5. Avatar
    Money Beagle

    Congrats. Everybody has different milestones and they should be celebrated. I can tell that you put a lot of effort, sacrifice and worry into meeting this challenge. Good for you!

    Reply

    1. Amanda
      Amanda

      Thank you! On to the next challenge now.

      Reply

  6. Avatar
    Janine

    Congrats! A step in the right direction!

    Reply

  7. Avatar
    NZ Muse

    YAY!!!

    I hope to finally nail the last of our CC balance in the coming months. It was racked up during his unemployment, then we paid it off shortly after buying this house, and then it crept up again due to pet and household expenses (sigh).

    Reply

  8. Avatar
    ForEver

    I am so happy to have found your blog. I needed to inspiration to stay motivated to keep working on our finances and paying down the debt when there isn’t a lot of money left over after our modest expenses and minimum debt repayment and when we keep experiencing financial setbacks that were unanticipated. Keeping on keeping on when it’s two steps forward, and one or two steps backward is tough and I love that your blog represents this situation in such a down-to-earth, and relatable manner. I admire your courage for being so honest and open about your financial situation.
    Congrats on this milestone, and keep on keeping on!

    Reply

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