By Melody Fowler
Have you ever received a billing statement only to discover that the amount due is higher than what you expected or that the money just isn’t there to pay it? Does this uncertainty in bills make you dread opening your email account or getting your mail from the mailbox? If you find yourself in this situation it can often feel like you are falling behind and the task of catching up is Sisyphean. However, there are some things that you can do to gain control of the situation.
Tip 1: Examine the Charges on Your Billing Statement
When you receive a billing statement, it is easy to focus on the total amount due versus the individual charges. However, by taking a moment to review the individual charges you can check to ensure that the charges listed are for services that you are still using. This applies to both monthly bank statements as well as individual billings statements. Begin by reviewing individual billing statements and note the items or service being charged. Did you or someone in your household authorize the charges on the statement? If not, you will want to contact the company to dispute the charges. Now consider whether you want to continue with this service. Do you still need it? Could you mow your own lawn versus hiring a lawn service? Can you reduce its use? Could you set the thermostat a few degrees higher in the summer to save on electricity?
Tip 2: Consider Changing Providers
It can get comfortable staying with the same service or company. However, switching companies can often reduce your monthly costs. For example, for 14 years I had the same car insurance company. My insurance costs seemed high, so I decided to look into comparable insurance quotes. I changed my insurance company last year, which saved me approximately $720 per year. Some bills you may want to consider switching include the following: cell phone, internet/cable/streaming, insurance or other providers where there is a fair amount of competition for your business. Examine the new service closely to see if it is comparable to your currently level of service. Also, be sure to review any contract period requirements. As with any financial decision weigh the costs versus the benefits to ensure you are getting a good deal.
Unable to Pay a Bill on Time
Sometimes when you receive a bill, the money just isn’t there. Should you pay the electric bill or should you buy groceries this week? During the next few weeks we will be looking at what options and help are available for families during these especially difficult times.