Which Bills Are the Worst To Miss Payments On?

Young family with baby worried about family budget and high taxes and bills.
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Obviously, it’s a good financial rule of thumb not to fall behind on any of your billing statements, but it does sometimes happen. You might accidentally miss a bill for a credit card due to oversight and scramble to make your payment assuring your bill provider it won’t happen again.

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With that in mind, have you ever wondered which bills are the worst to fall behind on? Let’s take a look by exploring which types of bills you should pay off first.

High Priority Debt

If you’re looking at a pile of billing statements and unsure which ones take top priority in being paid first, your next move should be to determine which debt category each statement falls under. There are three categories for debt, according to the National Consumer Law Center.

Those who do not pay high priority debt put themselves at risk of immediate harm. Forms of high priority debt include, but are not limited to, the following areas: 

  • Mortgage and/or rent payments
  • Utilities, including gas, electricity and water
  • Child support
  • Car loans
  • Criminal justice debt, such as an unpaid traffic ticket
  • Court-ordered debt, in the event you are sued by a creditor for unpaid debt
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Missing a payment or continually missing payments on high priority debt, depending on the type of debt you carry, could result in foreclosure or eviction of your home, repossession of a vehicle, disconnection of service to your account, garnished wages and even jail time.

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Medium Priority Debt

Once you have paid off the high priority debt, move on to taking care of medium priority debt. This includes the following debt:

  • Credit cards
  • Medical insurance or medical bills
  • Property taxes
  • Federal student loans 
  • Unpaid taxes owed to the IRS

Some of these types of debt, like federal student loans and unpaid taxes, are increasingly moving towards the high priority debt category. What ultimately keeps these types of debt categorized as medium priority, however, is borrowers have the ability to work out a payment plan with their servicer or with the IRS.

While one does not want to fall behind on medium priority debt, it is possible to delay these payments or agree to a payment plan of some kind if you need to. Ideally, however, you do not want to neglect paying off medium priority debt, as doing so can hurt your financial future.

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Low Priority Debt

Finally, you may be left with a few pieces of low priority debt. Let’s see what is categorized here:

  • Loans from family members and friends
  • Unsecured loans

As lower priority debt, these items usually do not have collateral or associate with immediate risk or harm to your livelihood. It may also be easier to pay back this kind of debt with more leeway provided by the person you took out the loan from.

Knowing which types of debt you have which are high, medium and low priority is good for understanding which bills you need to pay first and prioritizing these payments accordingly. Make sure to pay your high priority debt on time and all other forms of debt you may carry.

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About the Author

Heather Taylor is a senior finance writer for GOBankingRates. She is also the head writer and brand mascot enthusiast for PopIcon, Advertising Week’s blog dedicated to brand mascots. She has been published on HelloGiggles, Business Insider, The Story Exchange, Brit + Co, Thrive Global, and more media outlets. 

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