Paying Your Bills
MANAGING YOUR BILLS AND EXPENSES
Paying your bills on time saves money (no accrued interest or penalty payments), and prevents a build up of financial anxiety leading to stress and poor physical and mental health.
Set Up and Review Your Bills
Setting up a Direct Debit for your bills where possible is the easiest way to manage your payments. If you do make payments manually, it is a good idea to set yourself reminders using a diary or text alert system.
It's also a good idea to regularly review your bills and compare what you are currently paying with what another provider will offer you.
Switching providers can lower your payments and some offer attractive incentives to switch too. However, terms and conditions will apply and you may have to pay to end a current contract, so always check the small print and don't be afraid to speak to your existing provider and ask for a better deal – many companies will give you a better deal to keep your business than to lose it!
Paying Your Bills
If you pay your bills late you may pay a penalty. There are quick and easy ways to pay your bills and avoid penalty fees and court costs:
Direct Debit: Allows a company to take money from your bank account on an agreed date. The amount taken may be changed by the company but you should be told in advance about this. You may even receive a discount for paying by direct debit.
Standing Order: You tell your bank or building society how much should be paid to another company or organisation on an agreed date, and only you can change your payment amount and date.
Managing Your Essential Bills
It’s important to always have somewhere for you and your family to live. Keeping your home depends on your rent or mortgage payments, so rent is a priority bill which must be included in your budget even when you receive Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.
Apply for Housing Benefit or Universal Credit for help to pay your rent if you are on benefits or have a low income.
If you are 18 or over you must pay council tax for your home unless you are exempt or live in an exempt property.
Check to confirm whether you are eligible to get help to pay your council tax if you are on a low income or in receipt of benefits.
Your council tax bill may also be reduced if you live alone, are disabled, or live in the annexe of a main property.
Gas and Electricity
There are many suppliers of gas and electric.
It's easy to compare prices through a number of online comparison sites. You can then switch to a supplier that maximises your income and minimises your spending.
You can further save on your energy bills by using your gas and electricity efficiently, and by using a payment method that will yield the highest discount. For example, some companies give a discount for direct debits; which is also a good way to budget.
You can support the environment by opting for alternative or green energy – for example solar power or green gadgets.
Fit a smart meter so you can see how much electricity and gas you are using and what it is costing you by the hour!
Use energy efficient appliances and ensure your boiler is regularly serviced.
Improve your insulation and draft proofing:
Insulate your hot water cylinder
Avoid leaving appliances on standby when not in use
Set your heating controls so that you only have heating and hot water when you really need it
My home energy switch is a free energy supply service from the National Housing Federation which can help residents to reduce their energy bills. Simply call 0800 0014 706 or visit their website by clicking here with your postcode and a current energy bill to hand.
You can save on your water bills by:
- Installing a water meter
- Monitoring your usage
- Adopting water savings habits – turn off taps not in use, wash full loads, shower regularly, bath occasionally, recycle water – water plants with washing up water, heat just what you need
Getting water efficiency appliances and devices such as installing low flow taps, flow regulators or aerators, water efficient showerheads or reduced capacity baths help with reducing your water usage.
If you watch live TV or BBC iPlayer you will need a TV Licence which costs £147 per year. Usually, this is an unavoidable bill unless you do not watch live TV or use BBC iPlayer.
Your TV Licence may be paid in weekly, monthly or quarterly instalments.
You may also pay in advance for your TV Licence for the following year when you use a TV Licence savings card.
Apply for a refund – If you are away from your term-time accommodation, for a specified period of time or if you become eligible for a concession before your TV licence expires. For details on applying for a refund click here.
Food and Housekeeping
- Plan your shopping so that you only buy what you need
- Cook what you need to avoid food wastage. The love food hate waste website has some useful hints and tips
- Meal planning helps to use up food before expiry dates
- Shop where you get the best deals
- Check out the best supermarket rewards as to which work best for you
You may be able to get your travel cheaper if you shop around.
Check for eligible discounts, discounted or free travel – children’s oyster cards, young person’s railcards, family travel cards, group travel cards, freedom pass.
Travel when it’s cheaper such as off-peak times or when you purchase a ticket in advance.
Invest in alternative travel methods such as a bike, motorcycle, car -sharing or even walking.
Research your travel options online and pick the deal that is right for you.