Money Worries: Dealing With an Unexpected Bill

There are few things more terrifying in life than being met with a large, unexpected bill that you don’t have the money to cover. Unfortunately, it’s something that most of us experience at one time or another, and as unpleasant as it is it makes you want to be more prepared for the future. If you’ve had a big unexpected bill or expense of some kind land on your doormat, don’t panic. Here’s what you need to do next.

Speak to The Creditor or Issuer

If the expense you’re dealing with is a large bill, your first step would be to call whoever issued it. If you explain your situation, in most cases they will be more than happy to accept payments that you can afford. It might even be ‘token payments’ of a

few dollars a month, anything is better than nothing to them, but they will be aware that they can’t get blood out of a stone. Some companies will ask you to complete an income and expenditures form to see exactly what you have coming in and going out and base the payments to them based on this. If your large expense isn’t a bill but something like a broken down car or appliance then there are still things you can do. For things like washing machines, ring the manufacturer. Even if you’re out of warranty, in many cases they offer repair plans where you can pay a small amount each month for them to come and repair the item. Some car garages will also offer payment plans, so it’s worth having a chat with whoever you need to pay and see if there’s a way you can pay that suits you both.

Ask Friends and Family

When things go wrong, your support system is more valuable than ever. If you find yourself in a tight spot, then asking friends or family if they can help can ease the worry. They might loan or give you the money, or be able to help in some other way. For example, they might be able to repair a broken item for you instead of you having to pay a professional. Or they might know someone who can do it cheaply. If you do borrow money that they want to be paid back, it makes good sense to  write out a contract. Decide on monthly repayments that they’re happy with but importantly, are affordable for you. The last thing you want to do is let them down because you were unable to make the payments.

Sell Items You No Longer Need

Most of us have hundreds, sometimes even thousands in unused items in our homes. You could find things to sell and have a declutter at the same time, kill two birds with one stone.  Good quality clothes, shoes and bags that you no longer wear sell well. Old mobile phones and tablets, games consoles, games and dvds all have a market. Broken, scrap or unused jewellery will also be snapped up. Sell online, at boot fares or in specialist shops like jewellers or antique dealers. Have a rummage around your home and decide what’s  no longer useful. No matter how pointless or worthless it seems, there could well be a person or company out there willing to take it off your hands for cash.

Make Cutbacks

Something you can do right away to free up extra money is to make cutbacks. Tighten the belt and get rid of all of the little luxuries that you’re spending on, these little purchases here and there really do add up. Takeaways and coffee shop coffees. Treats here and there, the odd night out, cease all of these purchases in the short term until you’re back on your feet. You’ll free up some cash to use towards the expense.

Take Out a Loan

A loan can be a good option if you need cash upfront, as you pay it back in affordable monthly instalments. If you want the money as soon as possible, a payday loan from a company such as could have the money to you right away. Otherwise, you could drop into the local branch of your bank and have a chat to see if you would be approved by them. If you have a poor credit score, chances are you won’t be approved by mainstream lenders and so will have to use a more specialist company. The interest rates will be higher,  but it can be worth the cost to get you out of a sticky situation. Always be sure to plan carefully. Work out exactly how much you need, and don’t be tempted to borrow more just so you can spend it on what you like. Make sure the repayments are something you can comfortably cover until the loan is paid off.

Get Insured or Save Money

Building a rainy day fund is one of the most beneficial financial things you can do as an adult. It gives you access to some cold hard cash if you ever need it. Keep putting away whatever you have, whenever you have it and don’t touch that money unless it’s a genuine emergency. Another option is to get insured. Home insurance will protect your appliances against breakage or theft. Dental and medical insurance will, of course, prevent large health bills from running up. Even things like mortgage protection insurance, pet insurance and boiler insurance can be taken out. Have a think about what would be the most useful to you, and work the insurance costs into your monthly budget. It might be an extra expense each month, but if the worst were to happen, you’ll be so glad you were prepared.


Use this experience as a learning curve. If you’ve been left in the lurch due to being unprepared then get yourself organised for next time. Expect the unexpected in life, hopefully nothing like this happens again but you should plan in case it does!


Arnel Ariate is the webmaster of Money Soldiers.

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