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Dade County residents who have fallen behind on their bills may be feeling stressed out over creditors calling them and confused over the best path back to financial solvency.

The first thing they must do is get an accurate picture of their finances. To do this, it’s necessary to list all necessities of life — housing, food, utilities, health insurance and car expenses. Cable is not a necessity, and expensive foods like steak and seafood should not be on the grocery list when facing financial difficulties. Entertainment, too, takes a back seat until the financial picture is rosier.

Once the minimum amount to meet life’s necessities is determined, it’s time to look at what’s left over. This is what should be paid out to bills that have fallen into arrears. It’s likely that there will not be enough to meet all commitments, so it is important to prioritize.

Armed with this information, consumers can contact their creditors and apprise them of the current situation. Sometimes, an agreement can be reached where payments may be temporarily lowered or even suspended until the consumer is on stable financial ground again.

Debtors should take a hard look at their financial situation. If they are living far above their means, they have a couple of options. Taking on a second or seasonal job to catch up or ridding themselves of financial obligations they can’t meet are options. This can mean moving into a smaller home or apartment or selling a vehicle.

Sometimes, these steps are just not enough to rise above one’s financial shambles. A fresh start might be necessary to clear the slate and start anew. A Florida bankruptcy attorney can provide advice and counsel for those wishing to file for consumer bankruptcy.

Source: about.com, “How to Deal With Your Creditors When You Can’t Pay the Bills” Oct. 27, 2014