Whether you are having a tough few months or you have been struggling to gain traction with your bills for a long time, any help you can get is a welcome relief. If you have scrimped and saved and still struggle to pay your bills every month, you know how frustrating it can be to try to get ahead. Getting a little help can make it easier to begin saving so you can start making headway. Low Income Financial Help has provided a list on how to get help with bills covering some of the most important monthly costs.
Here are a few ways you can get help with a few of your bills:
Apply for subsidized housing: Rent and mortgage payments are usually the biggest expense. If you are a renter, consider applying for subsidized housing. Your rent will be cheaper (and the apartments are generally nicer) because the government is offsetting some of the cost. You will be required to show proof of income. If you own your home, try refinancing your loan for a lower interest rate.
Energy bills: Every state has energy assistance programs. Most of them have income requirements as well as application requirements. If you are accepted, you could receive a substantial discount on your energy bills each month. If you do not qualify for assistance or miss the deadline, talk to your gas and electric companies about a budget plan. The company will average your expenses over the course of the year and give you a set payment each month. You will likely see lower payments in some months and if you use less energy, you get money back at the end of the year.
Phone Bill: Your phone company may offer discounted rates if you meet income requirements. These discounts (and sometimes-free lines) only apply to landlines. To see if you qualify to receive free cellphone service, check out Lifeline and choose your state from the drop down menu.
Groceries: According to an article in USA Today by Nanci Hellmich, the average family spends anywhere between $600 and $1200 a month on groceries. While the thriftiest families can spend closer to $400 a month, this can still be a big budget eater if you do not want to spend many hours couponing. There are several solutions including WIC (Women, Infant, and Children) and Food Stamps. Both services provide a stipend to help offset the cost of groceries. You can also get help from a local food pantry or church.
Debt: Many families struggle to pay their bills each month because they are swimming in debt. Student loans, car payments, credit card bills and medical bills take a toll. Some debts, like student loans, take a long time to pay off. If you are having a difficult time paying your debts, do not stop paying your bills. If you need help with debt, find a free credit counselor. Avoid settling your debt because it will damage your credit. You will save more money working with the companies yourself to come up with a manageable payment arrangement.
There is nothing to be ashamed of if you need a little help getting back on your feet. If you get help, remember to use any extra money to set aside an emergency fund and pay off debt and you will soon be self-reliant.
*USA Today article: 5:27 p.m. EDT May 1, 2013 – Cost of feeding a family of four: $146 to $289 a week