Everyone needs things like gas, electricity and water; they keep your house ticking over and help you to make sure you and your family survive. However, running up debt on the bills for these things can be easier than you think.
In Scotland, water costs are included in your council tax bill. However, if you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, you will have to pay all of these separately.
Common causes of utility bill debt
People get into debt with their utility bills for many reasons. Energy companies are upping prices and bills all the time, which can result in you receiving a high bill that you can’t afford at the end of the month.
Bills can also be lost. Whether this be in a last-minute clear out or in the post, it can leave some people unable to pay because they do not know how much the payment is.
Your energy bills are based on what the company thinks you will use throughout the year, which sometimes can end up being wrong. This can often cause people to end up not paying enough for their usage and being sent the bill for the difference later on.
Living in Britain, our weather is unpredictable. People tend to use their utilities more during cold snaps, rainy days and those times when the dreaded snow comes to visit, meaning your bill can end up higher during this time.
People move houses and/or switch energy companies all the time. However, sometimes this can mean you get hit with the extra cost of paying off the old company as well as paying your new one.
Systems can also take time to be updated when you switch, meaning you can end up with a bill for missed payments for your old energy company through no fault of your own.
Much like the weather, you never know what life is going to throw at you. Emergencies can spring up from time to time, leaving people with little to no money to be able to pay their bill.
Keeping on top of utility bills
Companies often raise their prices with little warning, and many still base your bill on what they think you will use. This, unfortunately isn’t always right, and it’s easy to overlook these bills when planning your budget, especially if you pay them quarterly.
Keep on top of things by putting aside enough money each month to cover all your bills – and remember, your heating bills may be more expensive during or shortly after winter.
Setting up a Direct Debit or standing order is a great way to make sure you don’t forget to pay your bill. Some companies also offer a discount for Direct Debit customers.
You should also double-check you’re on the cheapest rate. Use one of the many price comparison websites to check that you’re getting the best deal. If you find a cheaper deal, switch; just make sure you pay all outstanding amounts to your old supplier.
If you’re already on the cheapest plan, you may still be able to do more to keep on top of your bills. If it’s are based on what the company guesses you will use, take meter readings often and compare these to your bills to make sure you’re being charged the right amount.
What to do if you have utility bill debts
Get in touch with your utility company to discuss what is going on. Be open and honest and explain that you’re keen to pay off the debt. All utility companies should be prepared to work with you to find a realistic way of clearing your debt with them.
Ask if they can arrange a payment plan so you can bring your account back up to date without stretching your purse strings
If you are currently struggling to make payments to utility providers and building up debts, call us now for fast, free debt advice or fill in this short contact form. One of our advisors will be happy to run through your options with you.
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