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Which debts do I pay first?

Produced by Mariah Jennings-Rampsi, South Coastal Counties Legal Services, with funding from American College of Bankruptcy
Reviewed September 2019

Use your money to pay for your family’s needs first. Food, cloth­ing, shelter, and utilities are the most important bills. A debt collector can only take your income or things if there is a court order The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has created a tool kit to help you decide which bills to pay first.


You may have already told a creditor they can take your stuff if you do not pay-- like with a car loan or a mortgage.  If your debt is a credit card, a debt collector must get a court order to take anything that is yours. And the debt collector cannot take things that are “protected.”  

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