What do I do if I cannot afford my bills?
With energy bills rising and temperatures outside plunging, managing costs is becoming even more difficult. With the average cost of a full tank of petrol costing more than £100 for the first time this year, millions of people are faced with the “eat or heat” choice – forced to choose between eating a meal or heating their home.
With costs rising around us, debt charity StepChange has been warning that many more people will fall into debt as they struggle to make ends meet. With that in mind, we put this post together to help those finding it hard to pay bills.
Whether it is a bill on the way or if you are struggling with an unpaid bill that has been handed over to a debt collector, this post helps you understand what you should be doing as well as what you should not.
1, Firstly, do not ignore communications about unpaid bills
Being in debt is stressful and is known to cause anxiety and panic. Whilst a lot of people will look to find a solution, there are times when people simply bury their head in the sand.
Ignoring it does not make the problem go away. If anything, amounts owed can increase dramatically if companies add costs and interest.
Taking that first step to managing your debt can be hard however there are many organisations and tools that can help you. When you do make that first step, you will feel more in control which ultimately helps to alleviate some of that stress you will be experiencing.
2, Always keep communicating
No matter if you were approached by the creditor or a debt collection company, communicating with them on your situation helps avoid situations escalating.
The people working for these companies are human and can only help if they know your situation. Be open and honest and explain the situation you are in. The majority are understanding and will do what they can to help you.
Most companies can help you with a payment plan that suits your financial situation. Some may even agree to you taking a break from payments.
Communication is a tool which costs nothing. It can help you manage your situation and help resolve your bills before things escalate out of control.
3, If you simply have no spare money, ask about ‘breathing space’ options
Pretty much all bills have gone up. Shopping, energy, and gas have all seen incredible hikes in price over the past year. Many people simply have no money left over at the end of the month. If you are struggling to make payments, then discuss this with the lender or AI debt collection agency. Most of them can help with a breathing space scheme which gives you time to come up with a plan.
So, what is a breathing space scheme?
- Usually, it means your creditor will pause all communications to you giving you some breathing space
- Cases will not proceed to legal or enforcement
- Interests and costs will be paused during the breathing space period.
Again, it all comes down to communication. You need to request it and then keep in touch with the lender as you figure out a plan.
Dept Respite Scheme
If you live in Wales or England, you can also use the governments Breathing Space [Dept Respite Scheme]. This gives you temporary protection for up to 60 days with an additional 30 days being added for those receiving mental health treatment. Applying for this can only be done in consultation with a debt adviser.
Click here for more information of the debt respite scheme >
4, Free debt advice
There are many agencies out there who provide debt advice. It is free, impartial, and always confidential.
Check out our free debt advice page for a list of some of the organisations you can use , including citizens advice and StepChange.
Most agencies can help with:
- Providing free, confidential, and expert debt advice and money guidance
- Recommendations on the best solution or service for your situation
- Ongoing support while you deal with your money worries
- Ability to campaign on your behalf to reduce the risk of problematic debt and the harm it can cause you
It is important to note that organisation such as StepChange do not take the problem away, they simply advise and point you to the tools to help. You will remain in control with them at your side to guide.
5, Avoid the loan trap
Borrowing money costs money. Paying off a debt with a loan or credit card will only make the situation worse. Rather than taking out a loan it is better to seek free debt advice to help with your financial situation or get in touch with the lender to define a plan that works for you.
How we at DebtCo can help
If you have been contacted by us with regards to an outstanding balance, then please do not worry. We provide tools and support to help you manage your case. Without even speaking to an agent, you can access your account with our FinView app where you can determine a payment plan that suits your financial situation.
Should you wish to speak with an agent, need some debt advise or need a breathing space to figure out your plan then get in touch. We are here to help.