There could be any number of reasons why you might miss a payment on your mortgage, credit card, or loan. Perhaps you only just missed the deadline, are struggling to get the money together, or you simply forgot. Whatever the reason, it's important to stay calm and deal with the situation head-on.

Contact your lender

First things first: before doing anything else, get in touch with your lender and explain what has happened. It's best to tell the truth about why you missed the payment - if you clean forgot, tell them this and apologise.

If you are struggling to meet monthly payments, communicate this to your lender - it's likely they will be able to help you by bringing your payments down or even in some cases (such as mortgages) giving you a break from payments.

However it's worth remembering that if you do take a break from payments interest will still be added in the interim, meaning your mortgage will end up costing you more overall.

It helps to get in contact with your lender at the earliest possible stage after you realise you have missed a payment. This will reduce the likelihood of your lender marking a 'late payment' on your account and charging you a fee.

Don't ignore the problem

It's really important to face up to the problem as soon as you realise you have missed a payment. Don't bury your head in the sand and hope your lender won't notice - they will notice, and will contact you as soon as they do.

If you simply forgot the payment, consider setting up a standing order or direct debit from your current account to your creditor's account, so that the payment is always made automatically on time from now on. If you are doing this however, remember to make sure there are enough funds available to cover the payment from month to month.

On the other hand if you missed your payment because of a lack of funds and are struggling to repay your credit, it's important to not to ignore this problem and hope it will go away.

You might consider getting in touch with a debt charity such as Citizens Advice or National Debtline, and if you are having trouble paying your mortgage it's vital to make finding a solution to this a top priority as the loan is secured on your home.

Pay as much as you can

When you have spoken to your lender about the issue, it's now important to show your willingness to pay by sending as much of the late amount as you can, even if it is not the full amount.

It's worth drawing up a budget so that you can see where you might be able to rein in your spending and where you might be able to find some funds to go towards your payments from now on.

It's then a good idea to contact your lender to let them know you have sent the payment, and assure them your payment next month will be on time.