We don’t like paying them but bills are one of life’s necessities, they are what keep a roof over your head, keep your TV running and allow you to have fresh, clean water to drink. They are also one of the biggest things that people in the UK struggle to keep up with, according to recent research carried out by iCount over 300,000 people in the UK have been in arrears for their utility bills for more than 12 months. If you are one of these people who are in arrears for their council tax, gas, electric or water bills then you’re probably wondering what you can do about it, here are a few ways in which you can catch up with these bills and stay on top.
Contact Your Supplier
If you are struggling with paying your bills then always contact your supplier, whether it’s gas and electric or council tax. Let them know you’re having problems so they know you’re not just refusing to pay. Almost one in 10 people in Britain owe more than £300 in council tax, most councils are very understanding and will actively work to help you clear those arrears. You might even find that you’re entitled to some help if you’re on a low wage so it is always worth the phone call.
Check Your Bills
Don’t ignore your bills, when they come check them to make sure they’re correct. Often gas and electric suppliers will use an estimated meter reading (so basically guessing what you use) to calculate your payments. It might work out that you’re being charged for more than you are using, if this is the case then you can discuss reducing your payments – always take in to account that you will use more gas and electricity during the colder, darker months. A whopping 17% of Brits owe more than £100 to their gas and/or electric company.
If you are on a prepayment meter it might be worth looking in to direct debit credit meters, they are most often cheaper than prepayment and you don’t run the risk of running out of credit.
Go Paperless and Pay By Direct Debit
Often companies will charge extra fees for receiving paper bills (as it costs more than electronic/online bills) as well as fees for not paying by direct debit. Switching the way you receive and pay your bills could save you anything up to £100 a year.
Get Smart Meters
Smart meters are great; they inform your utility company exactly what you are using without you needing to make that call. They reduce the risk over an overestimated bill which could leave you paying almost double for your gas and electric. Having a water meter could also be beneficial as traditional payments are based on property size, not how much you actually use. You can have a meter fitted and if in 12 months you find it’s costing you more then you can always have it removed again – after 12 months you have to keep it. Almost 10% of the UK population owe more than £300 on their water bills.
Check Your Budget
Have a good comb through your monthly income and outgoings, write down exactly what you pay out each month and then prioritise the necessary bills – rent, council tax, gas, electric and water. Try to cut down the unnecessary payments such as TV packages, and plan meals to keep your food shopping down. iCount do a pre-paid Mastercard where you can set up direct debits/standing orders for all your necessary bills, then pay the money needed onto the card – this allows you to keep check of the bills going out and keeps necessary payments separate.
As well as this advice, look in to reducing your utility cost by using traditional money saving methods; turn lights off when not needed, only boil the kettle with the required about of water, take quick showers, turn off the tap while brushing teeth etc. Don’t stick your head in the sand when it comes to paying your utility bills, take charge and make sure they are always up to date.