When you’re lagging behind on paying your bills, not freaking out and developing a solid strategy should be your top priority. Stressing yourself over the given situation won’t solve a thing. Taking action and addressing the problem at hand, however, will. To help you get things under control as quickly as possible, we’ve assembled a list of the top 5 things you need to keep in mind when dealing with bills that are overdue:

1. Get an overview of your current financial situation

A lot of times, people spiral into a never-ending corridor of panic, when in reality, the situation they’re dealing with is far less pressing than what they’ve painted inside their minds. So the first thing you should do is count the total sum you owe. Just go at it bill by bill, add it all up, and see what you’re looking at. The next step is to look at all of your bank accounts and savings. Can they take another hit?

2. Prioritize the bills

Once you’ve taken an inventory of what’s in front of you, the next step is to make a plan regarding which bills to pay off first. If a particular bill is long overdue, it’s probably best to pay it off first to avoid getting into further complications and escalating the problem, especially if the total amount due is something you can handle. Just resort to your best judgment when sorting it out, pay the small ones first, and you should be fine. Of course, paying your utility bills should be your top priority as well.

3. Avoid new expenses wherever possible

Even though there may be a new pair of shoes you’ve laid your eyes on, a shiny new bag, or anything else for that matter, if it’s not essential for you to have that particular item in order to go about your daily life, postpone the purchase and buy it at a later date. Likewise, you should cut off any unneeded expenses: avoid having to pay for cab fares when a bus will do, and cook your meals at home, even if it takes more time and it’s not as convenient.

4. Consider doing other work on the side

Side hustles and part time jobs may not be something you want to do for your entire life, but they’re a great way to raise some money when you’re in a tight spot financially. You may need to sacrifice some of your free time to do it, but losing out on a little bit of entertainment is far better than having your electricity cut off.

5. Know your options when an emergency arises

If you need to pay your bills within a single day and there’s no breathing room for anything else we’ve suggested, you can consider borrowing some money from your friends and family members. If you’re on good terms with them, they will probably be willing to help you out. If not, there are certain installment loans you can consider. However, do bear in mind the interest rates associated with them tend to be on the higher side, so you should only think about getting a loan in a dire financial emergency that calls for immediate action.

Conclusion

Now that you know what to do, it’s time to get to work and get the unpaid bills taken care of as soon as possible. Your inner peace of mind that comes as a reward when the problem is solved makes it well worth the hassle.