This section of the website is focused on bills, it covers:
All the types of bills you might have to pay
Why paying them on time is really important
Any help which is available if you are struggling with your bills
Get started below.
Paying the bills can be difficult. When we live on our own for the first time it can be really shocking just how much we have to pay for, don’t worry everyone feels like this when they first live on their own!
Managing our bills and paying them on time is really important as it can make our lives much more difficult if we don’t.
As we covered in the section on Debt, not paying our bills can cause something called ‘Arrears’ which means we haven't paid what we owe or what we have agreed to.
At its worst it can mean being taken to court and having essential services, like electricity, being disconnected from where you live.
Firstly let's look at the most common types of bills you are going to have to pay when you start to live independently.
Council Tax – You will have to pay council tax when you live independently, you may be entitled to apply for various discounts or reductions:
Single Person Discount - if you live on your own you can apply to get a single person discount
Care leaver discretionary reduction
Water Bills – This pays for your supply of drinking water and to take wastewater away.
Gas / Electricity – You may have both of these depending on the property you live in, but you can get both on the same bill to make things easier.
You may also have a pre-payment meter instead. This means you don't get a bill but have to put money on a key or card to use your gas or electric.
Mobile Phone – Most people have a mobile phone to make phone calls and access the Internet. You may have a contract or a pay as you go phone. Some contracts include the cost of the phone in them.
Telephone – If you want a landline in your home you will have to pay a telephone bill. This isn’t as common as it once was and lots of people now just rely on their mobile phone.
Broadband – Internet access is crucial if you can afford it. Lots of different options exist and there are lots of different levels of service for broadband mainly affecting the speed of connection.
TV Licence – You have to have a TV licence if you watch live television in the UK whether it's using a television set or not, this includes online services like BBC Iplayer, ITV Player, All4 or Amazon Prime which show live TV programmes.
If you never watch or record live TV you may not need a TV licence but there is some grey area around this and the safest way to ensure you don't end up with a fine or be taken to court is to get one.
Streaming Subscriptions – If you want access to additional TV channels, streaming services or music you may take out a membership to these services. Examples include, Netflix, Sky, Amazon Prime and Spotify.
Contents Insurance – This protects your belongings in case there is an accident or you have things stolen from your home. You don’t legally have to have contents insurance but it is a very, very good idea to have it in case the worst happens.
Store Card/Credit Card – Not everyone has these. If you have a credit card or store card you will receive a monthly bill. The bill usually states the smallest amount you can pay but you can pay off any amount above this. It is best to pay the full amount of the bill each month. If you don’t pay off all the full amount you will usually be charged interest on the amount not paid off. This can be quite high and can mount up quickly.
Essential Living Expenses – These include bills for things such as food, toiletries, cleaning products, prescription charges (if you have to pay for them) and travel expenses (such as bus fares).
Remember you may have other bills and outgoings and all of these will affect your monthly budget, your monthly budget is how much money you have to spend on things and will include all your ‘Outgoings’ these are everything you have to spend money on including all your bills and things like food.
IMPORTANT! - The most important part of bills is paying for them. We all need to make sure we have the money available to pay all the bills we have, not paying them can have serious consequences.
How to pay your bills
The easiest way to pay most of your bills is to have the payments come out of your bank account each month. This means you can’t forget to pay them and you know they are paid each month.
An important thing to remember is some bills will change each month, this is true for bills like electricity and telephone bills, if you use it more you are going to have to pay more.
So keeping track of your bills is an important part of managing your money, you can learn more about managing money by clicking here or just find this section on the website.
Even if you are on benefits it's going to be likely you'll have to pay your bills. From November 2020 everyone should be on Universal Credit and with this benefit you will be responsible for paying all your bills as it's paid monthly directly into your bank account, just as if you were working.
What happens if you don’t pay your bills
You can get in debt. Debt is serious and should be seen as serious, it can make your life much more difficult and can mean that along with your normal outgoings you also have to pay back the money you owe.
It’s really important that you try your best to always pay your bills on time and make sure you pay these first before anything else, no matter how much you want to buy other things.
LET'S RECAP ON WHAT WE'VE COVERED
THERE ARE LOTS OF BILLS – You may be surprised just how many bills you have to pay when you begin to live independently
YOU SHOULD ALWAYS PRIORITISE YOUR BILLS – Take your bills seriously and make sure you pay these as soon as possible
YOU CAN GET IN DEBT WITH YOUR BILLS – If you are paid too much through your benefits you will have to pay it back
THERE IS HELP – Help is available that can support you with managing and paying your bills, just ask if you need help