Most of us have had the experience of a bill we’d forgotten about landing on the mat and ruining our carefully planned monthly budget. Or a bill we had planned for turning out to be more than expected.
Whether it means having to quickly find the money to pay it, or whether the money’s taken automatically and we have to cover the rest of the month, it can leave you either defaulting on payments or having to borrow to cover them.
The Problems With Bills
It’s very easy to lose track of bills, both when they’re due and how much they’ll be for. This is especially true of bills that don’t appear like clockwork on the same day of the month. Your TV licence, for instance, may be payable quarterly, and you have to remember which month you need to budget for that extra sum.
Bills can also be for more than you expected.. Your gas or electricity bill, for instance, may vary seasonally and, if you don’t have an arrangement to pay a fixed sum, could be a nasty surprise. Other bills might suddenly rise because, for example, an introductory offer has ended. Even if you can afford to pay the new sum, you’ll be left having to research whether there’s a better offer available.
If you can’t cover your bills, you risk going into arrears, which may be difficult to pay off and could affect your credit rating. You run the risk of County Court action, or a fine if you forget to pay your TV licence.
Keeping on Top of Your Bills
The best way of avoiding this is by keeping track of all the bills coming up. This can be done to a limited extent, for example, by keeping a spreadsheet of monthly outgoings, with bills marked in advance, or a calendar of upcoming bills. These approaches, though, only work if you keep the information constantly updated.
With this in mind, Which? is now offering a free tool called emindme, which allows you to pre-set the frequency of all your bills and receive alerts, with a choice of anything from the due date to months in advance. This is particularly useful for occasional bills, such as your car’s MOT. It can also suggest ways to reduce your bill, such as alternative suppliers offering a better deal.
You still have responsibility for acting on the information, of course, but emindme can be a valuable tool for managing your household bills. If you need further help managing your budget, feel free to contact us.