What To Do When You Can’t Afford The Bills?

Been caught out by a surprise hefty bill? Not being able to pay the bills can result in a downward spiral into debt if you’re not careful. Here’s how to deal with bills that you can’t afford.

Don’t ignore them

The worst thing you can do is hide your bills in a drawer and hope they’ll go away. They won’t go away. After a final notice letter is sent out, you may start getting interest added to your bill payment. Eventually you could spark debt recovery services to come in. Yes, you may not be able to pay the bill straight away and may be biding your time until you have enough money – but by ignoring billing companies you’ll only anger them. Your best option is to contact them straight away and tell them you situation.

Negotiate a payment plan

In some cases, you may be able to negotiate a payment plan. This may involve paying the amount in smaller instalments. If you want to opt for a lower tariff (for example, for a mobile phone contract or insurance provider) or negotiate lower rent, you may not be in a position to do this unless you’ve paid all the money you owe. Billing companies and landlords and other creditors will be far more likely to consider permanently lowering your bills if you’ve consistently paid up in the past.

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Has there been a billing mistake?

Occasionally, billing mistakes are made. This is surprisingly common with medical bills. Always ask for a breakdown of costs if you think there’s been a billing error as this will usually identify the problem. If it’s a utility bill that’s unusually high, consider whether there’s a leak. Gas leaks, water leaks and even electricity leaks can happen resulting in paying lots of money for energy you’re not actually using. An energy monitor can be useful to own to catch such leaks early.

Consider borrowing

Borrowing some money could allow you to pay off this high bill. Don’t worry about your credit rating – there are loans for bad credit out there that can provide the money you need. You may even be able to use a credit card or borrow some interest-free money from a family member. Whilst you shouldn’t get into a habit of borrowing, it can be a good solution for situations such as this.

Know your rights

Creditors aren’t allowed to harass you with constant demands to pay up, neither are they allowed to use threatening language. Know your right when it comes to owing money. Also, if you’re over a certain age and having trouble paying energy bills, looking into winter payments benefits schemes. The government is often willing to pay an allowance to pensioners under a certain income, which you may be entitled to.

Take action to lower future bills

Once the problem has been dealt with, your immediate step should be to prevent a bill like this catching you off guard again. This may involve more budgeting as well as planning out your bill payments. Having them all go out on the same date each month may make it easier to keep track of these payments. Also consider switching providers as there may be a better rate out there.


Arnel Ariate is the webmaster of Money Soldiers.

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