What to Do If You Can’t Pay Your Utility Bills

Paying utilities, such as water, electricity, gas and telephone is something that we must do each month. However, did you ever think of what you would do if you suddenly couldn’t pay these bills? In today’s world, sadly, there are many people that are unable to pay their bills each month, and they struggle from paycheck to paycheck. Here are some steps to follow if you ever fall into this situation.

First, assess the situation. How much are your bills each month? How much money do you have for bills? If the total of your bills is $300, and you only have $150 available, then you’ll now need to put priority on the most important bills. Utilities come first, because you don’t want to be without running water, power, heat or hot water. If you don’t have any money available for bills, then keep reading.

According to an Associated Press analysis, one out of six Americans depends on some form of public assistance, including help paying utilities. With the current economy the way it is, this number doesn’t surprise me one bit. Unemployment has risen, and it’s getting even hard to find a good paying job. No wonder people are struggling. Luckily, there are ways of finding help in times of need. Don’t be ashamed if you are looking into public assistance. You are not alone. You need to do what’s best for you and your family.

After you have decided that you need help paying your bills, call up your utility companies and ask about payment assistance. Many utility companies have programs that you may be eligible for, but you do need to ask. Programs such as LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) will help you pay your heating and cooling bills, as long as you meet the income guidelines. LIHEAP applications are only accepted at certain times, so you’ll need to check before applying. If you are eligible, LIHEAP will provide a grant directly to the utility company. There are many other programs out there, but it all depends on what state you live in. For example, Pennsylvania American Water participates in the H2O Help to Others Fund for help paying your water bill. Visit your state website for more information on LIHEAP, and other programs to help you.

If you are struggling with bill payment, then you may also be struggling to pay for everyday items, groceries and/or health insurance. This is where Food Stamps, Cash Assistance and Medical Assistance come in. Applying for these services is as easy as applying for the other programs. Again, you’ll need to visit your state website, department of public welfare section. Whether or not you are eligible will all depend on your income. Medical Assistance, or Medicaid, is a great program to belong to, because it will cover all of your doctor visits and surgeries, and most prescriptions cost only $1. These services can be quite helpful, especially if you are trying to support a family.

Once you’ve applied for assistance and all the programs you can, see how long they will provide help for you. Sometimes, the programs only pay a one time grant to the utility company. In the meantime, you should try to save up all the money you can to pay the utilities that you cannot get help with. Overall, don’t feel ashamed that you are in need of help. You are doing the best thing possible for yourself and your family. Eventually, things will get better and you’ll be back on your feet.