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How to manage bills

Bills can be stressful – so managing them effectively is a great way of getting peace of mind.

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 bills 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.

Choose the best way to pay

It's worth thinking about which way to pay bills suits you best. You could save money, or give yourself more control over when you pay, depending on which method you choose.

Automatic

Direct Debit is often the easiest way. It automates your payments – so you don’t have to think about them each month – and ensures your bills are paid on time. It can also be cheaper as some companies offer a discount if you pay by Direct Debit.

Find out more about the difference between Direct Debits and standing orders.

Manual

Alternatively, if you're registered for online, mobile or phone banking, you can use any of those to make payments when your bills are due. That way, you're in control of exactly when you make a payment and how much. The disadvantage is that it's up to you to remember when your bills are due.

By post, or in person

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 the recipient to process your cheque and for the money to go out of your account.

You can also pay many bills at your local Post Office. This can be convenient 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.

Make sure you pay your bills on time

Make sure your bills are organised. If you don't use Direct Debits, you could set calendar reminders 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 also to make sure you've got enough in your account to cover your bills. That way, you’ll 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.

Budget with tools

If you bank with HSBC and have an iPhone or iPad, you could use our Balance After Bills feature

It’s part of the HSBC UK Mobile Banking app, so you’ll need to download the app to your mobile device to use it. You’ll also need to register for mobile and online banking.

Balance After Bills 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 scheduled bills (standing orders and Direct Debits) are paid.

This can help make it easier to budget successfully from one payday to the next.  

There's also a wide range of other mobile banking apps which can help you organise a payday 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.

See if you can save by paying annually

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 you consider the average cost of car insurance is now £755.1

Paying in monthly instalments makes it easier to spread the cost over the whole year. But research suggests drivers opting for monthly premiums are paying an extra £55.36 on average compared to those paying annually.2

With that kind of potential saving, 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 two-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. 

And 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.

Look for cheaper options

You might also be able to save money by comparing your bills and seeing if you can find a cheaper supplier for utilities like gas, electricity and water.

There are so many providers that it can be daunting to choose which one is best for you. But there are comparison websites you can use to you find the best deal.

And if utilities and subscription services are still hard to afford, you could look at ways of cutting back your usage.

What next?

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. 

We have useful advice on how to take control of your finances, starting with creating a budget, and where to get support and advice on debt.

It’s easy to get in touch online. Talk to us directly through our chat channels.