How to deal with overdue bills

If you struggling to pay your bills, it’s tempting to sweep money worries under the carpet and hope they’ll disappear.

But the longer you leave debt, the worse it gets so it’s best take action now. There’s lots of help on offer to beat those bills. Here’s our 7 point guide…

Contact the company first

Sounds obvious, but our first instinct is often to avoid the company we’re struggling to pay. But with no explanation for non-payment, the service provider may cut off your supply, so call them straight away. Many companies offer monthly payment plans and advice. For example, Southern Water allows customers to pay directly from their benefits, while British Gas has a Pay As You Go meter option. 

Compare energy deals online

Always check online comparison websites for the lowest rates, as switching energy provider could save oodles on monthly payments. Online sites such as uSwitch, Moneysupermarket, Compare the Market and GoCompare should be your first point of call.

Cancel those non-essential bills

Time to prioritise your money. If you can’t afford to pay essential bills like rent, food, gas and water, then it’s time to cut out luxuries for a while. Put Sky TV and gym memberships on hold until essential bills are under control.

What to do if you can’t pay your tax bill

If you dread the tax bill coming through the letterbox, don’t worry as there is payment help on offer. HMRC’s website says consumers can get more time to pay, or pay their tax bill in instalments by direct debit. Contact HMRC immediately to notify them of financial problems to avoid paying interest from late payments.

Apps are your friend

Hurrah for technology. Energy providers like Npower and British Gas now have helpful apps which you can download to your phone to monitor your energy use. Just enter your meter reading to check the bill – if it’s already high, try conserving power by limiting use of lights and taking shorter showers.

Consult a free advice service

If you need help paying bills, there are tons of free advice services ready to help you with bill worries. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau is a first stop for impartial advice. Other useful charities to consult are Stepchange, National Debtline and the Money Advice Service.

What to do if you can’t pay your credit card bills

This is a common problem, so don’t despair. First, contact your card provider to talk about payment plan options. Another option is switching to a 0% interest credit card to keep the bill down. Martin Lewis at Money Saving Expert says minimum payments keep you locked in for years as the interest accrues, so always pay off as much as possible each month.