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Tackling your debts

How to pay your bills

Posted 23 December 2016

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Here are some quick and simple tips for paying your bills.

Few things are certain in life, but the bills are definitely going to come in each month. With this in mind, it’s worth having a look at how you’re paying your bills to make sure you’re saving as much as possible.


Here are our top tips for paying bills the smart way.

 

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Pay them on time


This may seem obvious, but it really is the most important thing you can do. Knowing that your important household bills are being paid on time will save you a lot of stress further down the road.


Organisation can go along way when it comes to paying things on time. Make sure you know what you need to pay, how much it will be and when it needs to be paid each month. A divider or folder to keep everything in can work wonders when you’re trying to keep track of everything.


Paying your bills via Direct Debit is also a good shout, as you won’t run the risk of forgetting to pay them, they will go out automatically. It’s also usually cheaper than the other methods of paying.


Put them in order of priority


Some bills are more important than others, because missing certain payments will have a greater negative impact on your life.


Always prioritise paying your household bills – such as your rent, council tax, gas and electricity - on time, they are classed as priority payments and should come before other unsecured debts, like credit cards and store cards. After all, you don’t want to be left without the ability to cook a hot meal or light your house.


Make a list of all the bills you have to pay and make sure the most important ones at the top are paid first. You can learn more about which bills to class as priority with our previous blog.


Compare the market


Put aside some time and have a look at some price comparison websites like Compare the Market and Money Supermarket to check you are getting the best deal on your gas and electricity.


It’s always worth doing this every now and again, especially if you’ve been with the same supplier for a while. You never know what you could be saving if you don’t have a look.


Time it right


Sometimes the timing of when a particular bill is due can make all the difference in whether you can find the money for the bill or not.


For instance, if you get paid weekly but your bills go out monthly, it won’t be a good idea to have all household bills coming out of your account in the same week. Your bills might get paid, but it will probably leave you in a tight spot when it comes to your other expenses, like transport and food. It might be beneficial to make sure that your payments are spread out throughout the month if you’re getting paid every week.


On the other hand, if you get paid monthly, it can sometimes help to have your bills come out of your account around the same time, a few days after you get paid. This way you’ll know your household bills are getting put first and the money leftover is what you have to budget for your other expenses. Just make sure that your bills are due to be paid a few days after your income comes into your account. This safety net can come in handy should there be any problems receiving your pay one month.


If your bills are due at inconvenient times, it’s with getting on the phone and seeing whether the dates can be moved.


Is Direct Debit better than prepayment meters?


The best deals are reserved for people who pay their energy bill via Direct Debit rather than on a prepayment meter. This is because the supplier has a guarantee of what they’re going to get.


It is sometimes possible to change to Direct Debit from a meter, but there are a few things that you will need to check first. If you’re paying off an outstanding bill, this will need to be paid off in full before you can switch and your supplier may want to run a credit check on you before they allow you to switch.


If you’re looking into this, watch out for any charges for switching and look around to check whether there are any suppliers that don’t charge at all. Even if you’re staying with the pre-payment option, it’s till worth comparing the price of other suppliers.


In Summary…


In summary, you should pay your bills on time, in priority order, at the right time in relation to your income and knowing that you’re getting the best deal you possibly can. If you’re doing all this, you can rest assured you’re paying your bills the right way.

 

by Christine Walsh

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.