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How to budget for household bills

Managing your household bills can be difficult, especially when times are tough. There are however some do's and don'ts to follow which will allow you to budget effectively.

Do's of budgeting

1. Do engage in budget planning A budgeting spreadsheet can help illustrate what your outgoings will be and there are many online budget planners which can help you. Make sure that you use previous bills and payslips to plan using these tools to make sure they are accurate. 2. Do set up direct debits or standing orders where possible This will not only establish what amount will have to go out each month, it will allow you to set a date (or a few dates) where you know money will be going out of your account. This can help if you get paid on certain dates, as planning for bills a few days after this will stop you spending any money you need. 3. Do set up a bills account Having a separate bill and current account can help with finances. It will lessen the risk of you accidentally overspending and ending up without enough money for household bills. 4. Do communicate with your bill providers
Many will have some form of online bill calculator as to how much you will pay when you use their service. Maintaining an open dialogue also helps if you find that you do not have enough money to pay a bill. Many providers will set up a payment scheme with you to repay any arrears you may accrue. 5. Do compare prices Providers have to be competitive to survive. Price comparison websites will help you do this and many providers may have special new customer deals for you to take advantage of. Beware contracts with your current suppliers however, some will contract you in for at least the first year.
6. Do seek help If you are in debt, the government has a variety of services which can help you consolidate and pay off your debt whilst maintaining your current bills.

Don'ts of budgeting

1. Don't be an ostrich Keeping your head in the sand will not resolve any issues you may have. Take an honest look at your position and you can develop a new budget. 2. Don't be unrealistic Wishing for things to cost less will not make it happen. Track how much you have to spend each month by looking at old bills and work out if and where you are spending more than you can afford. 3. Don't panic If you think you are in a bad situation, panicking will not help. Assess your weaknesses and think about what options are open to you.

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