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Get help with electric bills: What to do

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It’s easy to fall behind on your utility bills and get into financial difficulty. Whether other bills have taken priority or unexpected expenses have occurred, support is available to help you get back on track with electric payments.

The best thing you can do in this situation is act sooner, rather than later. A solution to your worries could be as easy as making a simple phone call to your biller and discussing your circumstances.

Keep reading for our advice on how to get help paying your electric bills and stay in control of your money. 

Help paying electric bills – before you miss a payment

If money is tight this month and you know you’ll struggle to pay your electric bill, it’s best to discuss it with your electric company, before the bill lands in your mailbox. This lets your biller know that you are in a sticky situation but are making an effort to pay.

Having an open conversation with your biller, before you miss a payment, could help you avoid any fees, though this at the biller’s discretion. After all, if you lent a friend or family member money and they suddenly can’t pay you back, you’d want to know about that as soon as possible.

Other ways you can act before you miss a payment include:

  • Look at available local government support – there are programs available to help people who are struggling with their bills. This could be a grant or emergency relief.[1] [2] These programs can vary by state, so contact your local government to see what support may be available in your area.
  • Request a payment plan – if you’re struggling with higher electric costs because of weather changes or other circumstances, you may be able to apply for a payment plan with your biller. This divides your annual energy bill into equal monthly payments, so you can start to budget for every month.[3]
  • Apply for Emergency Payment Assistance – your electricity bill is usually due 21 days after your biller takes a meter reading. During this period, you can reach out to organizations to apply for Emergency Payment Assistance. This could be a charity, such as your local church or Salvation Army, or a program set up by your biller.[4]

Help paying electric bills – when you’ve missed a deadline

Even if you’ve missed a bill payment, it’s not too late to reach out to your biller and seek support.

As soon as you realize you’re behind on your bills, contact your biller before they contact you. This may lessen any possible damage to your credit rating and help avoid your electric being shut off – again, this will be at your supplier’s discretion.[5]

Once you realize that you’ve missed a bill deadline, you should:

  • Contact the biller getting in touch with your biller as soon as possible shows that you’re actively trying to fix the situation. From there, they may be able to extend your deadline or at least remove any late payment fees.
  • Pay what you can – offering to pay a chunk of the overdue bill now, can help put you in a good position with your biller. Then, you can organize a bill payment plan and set a new deadline for when you’ll be able to pay the bill in full.[6]
  • Prioritize your spending – if you’re struggling with money for the month, make a list of the essentials (utilities, food, rent) and see where spending could be cut elsewhere.
  • Look for support – if this isn’t a one-time event and you’re going to struggle to pay your energy bill again, it may be time to seek support. Government programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) could support you with your energy costs.[7]

Tips to help pay electric bills on time

It’s easy to fall behind on your payments, but there are ways you can help pay your electric bill on time. Here are our top tips for making your bill payments easier.[8] [9]

  • Be proactive – it’s easy to sit on a problem and hope it goes away. Being aware of problems before they happen, however, can help lessen the burden and make it easier to work with your biller to find a solution. Your biller may even reward your honesty by removing late fees or extending your payment deadline.
  • Find a way of paying bills that works for you – there are multiple ways you can pay your bills, from over the phone and online, to visiting in-store. If you prefer to pay in person, our Money Services counters can be found within the Kroger Family of Stores, so you can pay your bills and do your grocery shopping in the same place. Find your nearest store.
  • Try and make bill payments part of your routine – the more natural you can make paying your bills, the less likely you are to miss a payment. This could even be doing so while doing your grocery shopping. By making it part of your routine, you’re also more likely to spot any possible payment issues early enough to solve them.
  • Set up automated payments – if you have the money in your account each month, but just forget to send a payment, setting up automated payments could help. This way, all your bills, like electricity, will automatically leave your account on the day they’re due.
  • Organize your paper bills most people have a pile where all their mail goes, but this makes it easy to miss bills. Create a system with your paper bills by separating them into piles for ‘to pay’ and ‘paid’ each month and keep a record of any past payments.
  • Sign up for reminders some billers let you sign up for payment reminders when your bill is due, either by email or text. Make sure you find out about any fees or charges associated before you sign up. You can also set these up yourself through your calendar or by downloading a reminder app on your phone.
  • Make a list of all your bills the easiest way to see what bills you have to pay each month and when they are due, is to write it all down. This includes any mortgage or rent payments, credit card bills and subscription services, as well as your utilities. 

Paying your bills is never going to be a fun experience, but there are ways to lessen the stress. Remember:

  • If you have a problem paying your bills, call your biller right away.
  • If the problem persists, seek help from government programs or charity support.
  • Be proactive and find a method for paying your bills that works for you.

Paying your bills at your local Money Services is quick and convenient. Find your local store to pay in store today.

[1] https://publicworks.baltimorecity.gov/low-income-water-bill-assistance-program#:~:text=DPW%20offers%20the%20Low%2DIncome,monthly%20payments%20toward%20this%20balance

[2] https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339-71547_5531-15407--,00.html

[3] https://www.consumersenergy.com/residential/programs-and-services/payment-assistance#payment-plans

[4] https://www.incharge.org/debt-relief/i-cant-pay-electric-bill-get-help/

[5] https://www.smartaboutmoney.org/Topics/Crisis-and-Fraud/Handle-a-Crisis/What-to-do-When-You-Miss-a-Bill-Payment

[6] https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0220-utility-services#What%20If

[7] https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ocs/programs/liheap/about

[8] https://www.creditkarma.com/advice/i/tips-pay-bills-on-time

[9] https://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/08/stop-paying-bills-late.asp

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