Alex O'Brien

Money & Banking

What to do if you’re struggling to pay utility bills

What to do if you’re struggling to pay utility bills

Electricity, gas and water bills can be difficult to foot at the best of times, let alone if you don’t have a lot of spare change in the bank. As these expenses continually start to rack up, the cumulative effect can snowball into a serious financial problem. 

However, even in these dire situations there are still ways to manage.

We’re going to run through the best steps to take if you’re struggling to pay your utility bills. A proactive approach to this problem is the best way to find a solution.

1. Contact your provider

Understandably, utility providers will want to do everything they can to make sure you can meet your financial obligations. Many companies have hardship officers that can help work with you to devise a plan to help pay the bill in manageable instalments. Some providers offer emergency utility vouchers you can use to help meet minimum repayments.

2. Don’t put it on your credit card

This is one mistake too many people make when struggling with utility bills. Paying with your credit card isn’t solving the problem, merely putting it off to a point where it will become a bigger problem down the track.

3. Consider a bill smoothing service

Some energy providers offer a service that allows you to make fortnightly or monthly payments towards future utility bills. This ‘bill smoothing’ makes each payment smaller and considerably more manageable than a big hit at the end of the quarter.

4. Seek help from a financial counsellor

Sometimes the problems go deeper than not being able to pay a bill and it might be time to seek help from a financial counsellor. An experienced financial counsellor can help you manage costs and figure out ways to get your finances back on track.  

5. Figure out ways to reduce your usage

Ultimately though, rates aren’t going to go down any time soon, so if you’re concerned about the size of your utility bill it’s worth figuring out ways to reduce your usage. There’s a wide range of handy tips that can help ease the pressure of power bills.

Have you ever had any problems paying utilities, and if so what did you do to cope? What advice would you give to anyone experiencing similar problems?

Let us know in the comments.

Related links:

10 clever ways reduce bills in cooler months

10 ways to keep energy bills down in winter

10 simple tips for fuel efficient driving