What to Do If You Cannot Make a Payment

If your income has been interrupted by the pandemic so that you are unable to make all your payments, here is the information you need to know.


  • Your mortgage is your first priority. If you can’t pay anything else, pay your mortgage before it goes 30 days late.
  • Mortgage lenders do not accept partial payments, like credit cards. If you send in a partial payment, it will be rejected and you will be reported as late. This will plummet your credit score.
  • If your mortgage is late, you must pay the entire payment due including all late fees to get caught up. Again, no partial payment allowed.
  • If you cannot pay your mortgage, you must call your lender immediately and ask what type of forbearance plan is available. Then you must get it IN WRITING.
  • There is no such thing as free forbearance in mortgage. You will be required to make up the payment later, usually with interest added.


If you can no longer afford your automobile, do not do a voluntary repossession. There is no difference between a voluntary repo and a forced repo on your credit. You will still owe the balance between what is due and what they sell the vehicle for an auction. This will become a lien on your credit.

  • If you cannot sell your auto, truck, or SUV because you are upside down in what you owe and the value, then drive the vehicle into a dealership and trade down for something you can afford. That way, you avoid a repossession and future lien against you.


If you cannot afford the minimum payment, call the credit card servicer and ask for a plan that will not be reported late to the credit bureaus. Then get the plan, including a statement that it will not be reported as late, IN WRITING.


If you are unable to pay your student loan, call and ask what type of deferment you may be eligible for. Work out a plan and get it IN WRITING.


There is no such thing as DIY skip-a-payment or DIY forbearance. If you don’t call and get a written agreement, the creditor has no way of knowing what’s going on with you. They don’t know if you deserve a grace period, or if you got lazy and irresponsible with your payments.

Communication in advance is the key. And remember, any agreement must be in writing or it is no agreement at all. Verbals don’t count in the credit world.

As always, thanks for reading.
Carolyn Warren


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