Your personalised action plan
Thanks for answering those questions. Here are your personalised recommendations for the help you could get.
1. Help paying your essential bills
Gas, electricity etc
If you think you’re paying too much for your utilities, use a switching service like USwitch to see if you can get a better deal.
Otherwise, get in touch with energy provider and ask them if they can lower your bills, or switch you to a cheaper tariff. If you’re struggling to pay your existing bill, ask them to put you on a payment plan, so you can pay smaller amounts.
If you don’t already pay monthly, get in touch with your council and switch to monthly direct debit payments.
If you’re struggling to pay anything right now, call your council and ask them to give you a payment holiday for a few months. You won’t be the only person in this situation. Do it as soon as you can, so they don’t try to bill you for the whole amount.
2. Help paying your debts
Can’t make your minimum payments?
The good news is most banks are offering some form of help (payment holidays, or not charging you if you miss a payment), so find out what’s available to you.
Going over your overdraft?
Be aware that some banks have changed their interest rates on overdrafts, so if you go over your overdraft limit you might get charged 40% interest! That’s about double what you’d pay on a credit card and it could mean you get into debt quickly.
Fortunately, some banks (including Lloyds and HSBC) are giving current accounts an extra £300 – £500 overdraft buffer (interest free). So if you normally live in your overdraft, get in touch with your bank to ask them to extend your overdraft. Just to give you a buffer for the next 6 months, so you don’t get charged interest.
Really worried about debts?
If you’re worried about your debts and you’re not sure what to do, please don’t panic. There’s always something you can do. StepChange debt charity offers free, impartial advice to help you.
3. Cancel things you don’t need
If you’ve pre-paid for any childcare that you’re not using, speak to your childcare provider about getting a refund (or rolling those fees forward to cover when your kids are back in childcare).
If you pay for your travel on a yearly or monthly basis, you might be able to get a refund on your ticket. Just get in touch with your train or bus company.
If you’ve booked a package holiday or flight that has been cancelled, you should receive a full refund. However, we do know that some companies are refusing to issue refunds (and insisting on giving vouchers or asking you to re-book for later). If that’s the case, you can report them to ABTA.
If your travel company is stalling about giving a refund, you can try to claim under your credit card or debit card instead. Just get in touch with your bank and ask them how you do that.
A lot of subscripton services will let you cancel almost immediately, or on 30 days, so if you need some money, cancel anything that you’re not going to need over the next 3 – 6 months. You can always re-subscribe. That includes gyms, entertainment, anything that you pay for on a regular basis.
Just check for any early termination fees first!