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You are only in your 20s, but you know that you shouldn’t be struggling financially as much as you are. You see your friends go out without worrying about cash flow, but yet you are left without that freedom.

The problem, in your case, isn’t just high student loan payments. It’s also that you have credit debt from borrowing to buy school books and pay for extras during college. Now, you’re paying it all back, but with an entry-level job, it’s taking time.

All was going well until you missed work for an illness. That put you behind on payments and lowered your income. Now, you have payments due and no way to pay them. You can’t see how you’ll get caught up, especially with interest, fees for missing payments and other expenses.

What should you do if you’re going to miss a payment?

If you know you’re going to miss a payment, it’s a good idea to call your creditor right away. They will welcome the call and may be able to delay the payment, roll it into next month’s bill or even forgive it for a month to help keep your account in good standing.

If they will not work with you, it’s possible to look into negotiating a payoff rate instead of continuing payments. The company may be willing to settle the account for less than you owe, letting you get out of debt faster if missed payments are inevitable.

How does a missed payment affect your credit?

While you may be able to catch up on payments by taking on extra work or doing odd jobs, the reality is that any missed payment hurts your credit. You may see it decrease by 90 to 110 points. That is a serious drop for anyone who had nearly perfect or good credit in the past. It can affect your future ability to take out loans or get credit, so it’s best to do all you can to avoid a missed payment from hitting your credit score.

Your final option should be to look into bankruptcy. It’s not usually the first thing you should turn to, since it can seriously impact your credit as well. However, if you are unable to maintain your payments and see yourself getting behind more over the next few months, then bankruptcy could be the right solution to getting your finances back on track quickly.