It’s coming up to that dreaded time of year, when the doormat becomes filled with numerous winter bills. We’ve had to turn the heating up, the lights are on for longer and before you know it, our monthly budget has gone out of the window.
While some of us are still recovering from the excesses of Christmas or are saving money for a summer holiday, it might seem like an easy option to ignore utility bills. You promise yourself you’ll go back to it later, you’ll pay it as soon as it’s payday, or you’ll sort it out ‘once you’ve got in front’.
How many people have ignored a utility bill in the UK?
Research from icount.co.uk revealed that a staggering 25% of us have admitted to ignoring a utility bill at some time, while over 50% of us have received a ‘late payment’ notice.
With one in 10 of us in water bill and council tax arrears, it’s quite common for us to forget about that one bill, or even to promise yourself that you’ll go back to it.
But there are consequences to pushing the bills back under the mat and it’s important that we budget to be able to afford them, so we are not stuck feeling sick at another red letter coming through the door.
The negative effects of ignoring a utility bill
Ignoring a utility bill could have a negative effect on your credit rating. If you’ve worked hard to avoid store cards and pay off interest-heavy credit cards, why risk all of that for a missed payment on a water bill?
Whilst we understand that a good credit rating will help us secure anything from a phone contract to a mortgage, it is vital that we don’t let a missed utility bill ruin all of that hard work.
Top Money Saving Tips – Practical advice for paying your utility bills on time
First and foremost – shop around
There is always a better deal to be had in terms of energy and water bills. It can take some time, but using cost comparison websites can help you get the best deal. Find the cheapest deal and proposition your current supplier with it. There’s a high chance you’ll get a reduction.
Secondly – budget.
Sit down and work out exactly what you have coming in each month, what your outgoings are (down to every last bill) and budget in money for food shopping, travel and any additional extras.
It’s also good practice to build in a buffer if you can, in case one bill is slightly higher than you expect, or you have an emergency outgoing such as a car repair, or house maintenance bill to pay.
You can even set up and automate direct debit payments using a prepaid Mastercard®. This way you’ll be able to ensure that your utility bill payments are made on time, rather than having to remember to pay them manually when they are due.