Spend

How to stop avoiding bills

Figure out what’s stopping you from paying bills on time and make paying bills a little easier.

Here's what you'll find out:

➜ How to figure out what’s preventing you from paying bills on time

➜ Why it’s important to budget for all of your bills

➜ Steps to make paying bills easier

Ever see an email pop up from your electricity company and feel your heart sink? Or, perhaps you pick up your mail, take it inside and put the letter face down for a few days.

Bills aren’t fun. Even at the best of times, bills are a hassle and unlikely to be what you enjoy spending your money on.

But avoiding bills, or putting off paying them, can be costly. In some cases, it can even damage your credit rating.

Here’s what to do if you find you’re struggling.

Figure out what the problem is

Do you find it difficult to find the money to pay all of your bills? Or, is it a hassle to carve out the time to pay them?

If you’re just forgetting to pay the bills, then setting up a direct debit can remove some of the hassle. With direct debits, your bank may even send you a reminder the day before the bill needs to be paid so you can make sure there’s enough money in your account.

If the reason you’re putting off opening bills is because you’re worried about whether or not you’ll be able to afford the payment, there are simple steps you can take.

Steps to make paying bills easier

1. Make a list

Part of the problem with bills can be the surprise. Sometimes it’s a surprise when they arrive, sometimes it’s a surprise when you see the amount. Make a list of all the bills you pay and how much they cost on average. It can be tricky as not all your bills will be paid monthly. Some might be quarterly and others could be annually.

As a guide, think about the following:

  • Rent or mortgage
  • Debt repayments (credit card, buy now, pay later, loans)
  • Utilities (electricity, water, gas)
  • Internet
  • Phone
  • Transport (public transport costs and/or car)
  • Insurances
  • Local government taxes
  • Education (school fees or loan payments)
  • Health (insurances, dental, fitness)
  • Entertainment (streaming services)

2. Figure out how much your commitments cost

Using your list, if you budget on a monthly basis, for example, figure out how much you’re paying each month. You’ll need to divide any bills you pay annually by 12 and any bills you pay quarterly will need to be divided by four.

Now you’ve got the monthly cost, you'll need to work this into your budget. If your budget is tight, this is a good time to find some ways to save.

3. Look for ways to save

There are a couple of ways you can save money on your bills.

Can you cancel any subscriptions?

A 2019 study found that 1 in 3 people are paying for subscription services they don’t use.¹ Even if it’s a small amount each month, that number will add up over the year. Of the list you made, what do you no longer use? Even if you do use the service, is it worth what you’re paying? Is there a cheaper alternative? If there are no penalties, you could always test out cancelling for a month and see what you think.

Can you find cheaper providers?

Your biggest costs are likely to be your electricity, internet, phone and any insurances. You may not be able to cancel these, but you may be able to switch and save money. The savings annually can really add up. Check out switching sites to see if you think this might apply to you.

Could you make any lifestyle changes?

Think about the way you use your utilities when you're at home and see if you can alter your lifestyle to bring the bills down. For example, would adding an extra layer on to the bed at winter help you reduce the amount of electricity you use? Could investing in a good fan in the summer could help keep your air conditioning bill down? Four minute showers aren't just good for the environment, they should also have an impact on your energy bill.

Open a separate account for bill payments

Having the money you need for your bills separated can remove the temptation to spend and prevent you from being caught short. This might help prevent the sting of having to pay for your bills too.

Other tips

Finally, there are a couple more ways you can make sure you don’t let bills slip:

  • Commit to opening every bill within 24 hours of receiving it - no need to dive straight in if you’re out to dinner and an email pops up.
  • Commit to rewarding yourself with a small treat once you’ve sorted your bills - it doesn’t even have to be one that costs you.

What next?

Find out more about how setting yourself a budget can help you achieve your goals.

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