The way we manage our finances is much better than prior to the recession but...

The way we manage our finances is much better than prior to the recession but the way we go about paying bills is still exactly backwards:

Bottom Line: We're all aware how the "keeping up with the Jones's" thing worked out during the Great Recession. The best thing that came out of the Great Recession was a greater aversion to taking on debt for life's non-essentials. Even the recent news that American debt levels just hit record highs (exceeding the record 2007 levels), isn't a sign of us being less responsible. We have more adults than 2007 and incomes are also above those levels. Importantly distress/default levels on consumer debt are all low at the moment. That being said we still have one bad habit that showed up in a big way during the recession...what we prioritize when we don't have enough money to pay all of the bills. 

According to a TransUnion study when we have a shortfall that leaves us without the ability to pay all of the bills in a given month, we generally prioritize our obligations exactly backwards. How/Why? Our tendency is  to pay the lowest cost bills first. On an emotional level this makes some sense. Practically this is a terrible idea. 

For almost everyone the largest monthly obligation you have is the roof over your head. If you have five monthly obligations it might feel good to pay four of them. But what's most likely to be the odd bill out? Your home right? Here's the irony of potentially paying the energy bill for the home you no longer live in... Aside from the need of maintaining a roof over your head there's another critical consideration that has to do with bankruptcy laws. 

In personal bankruptcy you have two major protected assets in Florida. Your retirement accounts and your home. For that reason you should prioritize  both of them in seriously adverse situations. As long as you're current on your home in bankruptcy, your home can't be taken away from you if it's homesteaded in Florida. So make that your first priority and work backwards from there...

Brian Mudd

Brian Mudd

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