It can be tempting to ignore bills when you know it can be a struggle to pay them. But the last thing you want is for them to start piling up. Missing bill payments can also affect your credit score.
Here are some ideas to help you stay on top of your money by keeping your bills under control.
Rising energy prices have meant higher bills for millions of households.
The price cap set by the energy regulator Ofgem means a typical household paying by Direct Debit should pay no more than £1,834 a year for gas and electricity in the 3 months to 31 December 2023.
The government is also keeping its Energy Price Guaranteein place until the end of March 2024 as a further safety net.
You could also try using a comparison website to check that you’ve got the best deal you can. Ofgem also has a list of accredited sites that comply with the industry code of practice.
If you receive Pension Credit or are on a low income, you could get a discount on your electricity bill through the Warm Home Discount Scheme. If you were born on or before 25 September 1957, you may also be eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment, which can help with your heating costs.
If you don’t qualify for these schemes, but find your utilities are still hard to afford, you could look at ways of cutting your usage. See our tips on how to save money on energy.
You may also want to check if you’re missing out on any unclaimed benefits, which you may be entitled to.
Broadband bills can be a big part of your outgoings too.
A new report by Which? says broadband prices may have gone up by as much as 15% in 2023, even for those who are in the middle of a contract.
If you’ve gone beyond the minimum term of your contract, you can switch to another provider without paying a penalty. Check first about how much notice you need to give.
The regulator Ofcom says customers can also leave mid-contract without being charged a penalty, but only if a provider raises prices by more than the Retail Price Index (RPI) rate of inflation.
If you prefer not to use digital banking, you can often post a cheque to pay a bill. Remember to allow up to 5 days for your cheque to be processed and the money to go out of your account.
You can also pay many bills at your local Post Office. This can be handy if you don't have a chequebook, as you should be able to pay by cash or card. But bear in mind that there may be a fee.
If you haven’t automated all your payments, make sure your bills are organised. Set a calendar reminder so you won’t forget when each one is due. That way, it's easier to make sure they don't mount up. You'll also avoid any late payment charges if you pay on time.
If you have paper bills, it's a good idea to keep them all together.
Remember to make sure you've got enough in your account to cover your bills. That could help you avoid any overdraft charges.
Check all your bills carefully. That's the best way to spot mistakes and keep an eye on whether any bills are going up, or down.
Try choosing one day a month and setting a reminder to check all your bills on that day.
You can use our budget planning tool to see where you’re spending your money. You’ll also be able to see where you could make changes and make savings.
If you have the HSBC UK Mobile Banking app, you can also use our Balance After Bills feature (on compatible devices). This estimates what you'll owe for the month ahead, based on your regular bills. It then shows you how much you could have left, once those standing orders and Direct Debits are paid. This can help make it easier to budget successfully from one payday to the next.
We have more mobile money management tools in our app to help you keep an eye on your spending and stay on top of your finances. Not only could they help you keep within your budget, they may also help you grow your money and achieve your financial goals.
There are also other money apps which can help you organise a budget. Some allow you to put money for bills into a pot and keep it separate from your other spending.
Find out more about managing your money with tech and tools.
Some bills can be paid either once a year, or in monthly instalments. This usually applies to things like car, or home, insurance.
Paying your annual premium in one go can be the cheapest way to do it. But it can be difficult to afford lump sum payments – not surprising when Which? reports that the average annual cost of a new car insurance policy has gone up to £545, according to Which?
Paying in monthly instalments makes it easier to spread the cost over the whole year. But you may end up spending more on average compared to those paying annually.
It’s worth looking to see if there’s any way you can pay the annual premium in full. But check first, because not all insurance policies charge interest on the monthly payments. For example, with HSBC Home Insurance, there's no interest on monthly instalments.
Council tax is another bill that can seem daunting when it lands on your doormat.
The full amount for the year is usually payable in 10 monthly instalments rather than 12. This means you get a 2-month council tax break in February and March. That could give you valuable wiggle room to pay any other outstanding bills that you might have been struggling with.
If you're finding it hard to afford the monthly amount, check to see if your local authority can help to spread the cost further. Many councils offer the option of making 11 or 12 payments a year instead of 10.
If you’re struggling to pay your bills, it’s best to get help straight away. If you’re going to be late with a payment, get in touch with the company you’re paying to discuss your options.
If you’ve fallen behind on some of your debt repayments, it’s important to contact the right people to help you get back on track.