Sometimes, no matter how carefully you plan, life throws a spanner in the works and you find yourself scrambling around for every bit of money you can find to pay your household bills on time. But sometimes, sadly, that isn’t enough. Sometimes, no matter how hard you count the pennies, dig around behind the sofa and check your bank account, there just isn’t enough to stretch to cover all the household bills for the month.
When that happens, it can be far too tempting to throw the bills in the drawer and hope that everybody forgets about them. But, that hardly ever happens, we’re sorry to tell you. There is a better way to deal with struggling to pay your household bills. Of course, it’s not a magic wand that’ll magically erase your bills or fix all your problems, but it does prevent you from picking up late payment charges, fees and interest that’ll only make the situation worse.
And the best thing?
This advice works for almost every household bill – so whether you’re short on money for your gas bill or your mobile phone contract – this step-by-step guide should help you find your way through the initial panic.
Struggling with household bills? Here’s what to do.
Step one: Acknowledge the problem
It’s important to get a clear idea of where you’re at with all your household bills and debt – and exactly how much you owe this month and overall. That way, you can tackle the problem head on and hopefully find a way that’ll solve all of your problems in one go, making your life much, much easier in the long run.
Step two: Communicate with your lender or provider
Although it’s a scary thing to do, it’s always best to speak to the person that you’re going to have trouble paying. Not only will you most likely avoid any fees or penalties for a late payment, but being open and honest with your lender/provider is usually appreciated and rewarded with extensions or repayment holidays until you get back on your feet.
Step three: prioritise your household bills
If you’ve got to miss payments and risk being cut off – it’s probably best to manage that risk. Prioritise must-pay debts – the mortgage/rent, loan repayments, food and heating (AKA, the ones keeping you warm, safe and alive) – and then order the rest from most-important to least-important.
Remember: gym memberships, phone contracts and other luxuries can always be renewed once you’re back on your feet.
Step four: Work out a plan
Now you’ve got a little bit of reprieve – either through extensions, repayment holidays or cancellations – it’s time to work out how to stop the household bills from getting on top of you again. And – we’re going to say it again (like in almost every blog post!)– that means making a budget.
Making a budget will give you an accurate idea of your finances, on areas you can trim and ways that you can make your money stretch a little further. Plus, they’re incredibly easy to do – just check out our quick guide.
Step five: Keep chipping away at the debt
Once you’ve got a budget in place, the next thing to do is eradicate as many debts as you can. Of course, we’re not talking about paying them off in one big chunk every time, but having a plan in place to pay a certain amount from a certain debt every month is a great way to proactively stay on top of your household bills and debt. Plus, you’ll build your credit rating in that time.
Paying extra amounts off of household bills and debt when you have spare cash can also reduce the amount of interest you pay and save you money in the long run.
Step six: If you’re still struggling, get help
There’s absolutely no shame in getting help – and there are plenty of free, confidential services out there to give you advice on how to manage your money, tackle your debts and get your head back above water. If you’re struggling with your household bills, it’s worthgetting in contact with any of these charities or organisations:
If you’re struggling with your household bills, we’ve got a tonne of advice on saving money in our Frugal Living section of the Bamboo Blog. Why not check it out?