More For Your Money - University of Illinois Extension

Prioritizing Your Bills

You’re legally obligated to pay your bills. However, for some people, not all bills can be paid on time because they don’t have enough money.  When you look at your bills, make a list of what might happen if you can’t pay them.  

  • Will your family’s health and security be affected?
  • Will your utilities be turned off?
  • What legal action might happen, such as garnishment or repossession?
  • Will you be evicted?
  • Is there a penalty or charge for late payment?
  • Will the remaining balance need to be paid in full if you miss a payment?
  • Will you be hassled by the creditor?
  • What will happen to your credit report?
  1. The most important bill is housing. You have to have some place to live. 
  2. Important services like utilities, transportation, and insurance are the next most important bills. 
  3. Bills that cost money if they are not paid are next.  These include bills with a late penalty, disconnect-reconnect charges, and repossession options. 
  4. Bills that are likely to be turned over to a collection agency come next. 

Once you’ve paid these bills, you can pay your other bills.