Financial hardships have become commonplace now that we’re speeding through one of the biggest economic crises in recent US history, and sometimes it’s tough to keep up with everything the world throws at us.
Of course, you can adjust your budget by cutting back on some unnecessary things you may have purchased earlier, but sometimes, this isn’t enough, and oftentimes, the average American will face a time when they have to choose between food and keeping the lights on at home.
The obvious first step is to contact your local utility company and inform them that you’re unable to make the payments on time, and considering you won’t be talking to a machine, they may be able to present you with a solution.
From time to time, a company may end up lowering the payments for struggling individuals and families, and you may even be given some extra leeway regarding any future payments you’d be making.
This way, the company allows you to focus on what’s important while they take care of the necessities, which may not sound like a lot on paper, but it can mean the world if you’re feeling stuck.
Relief programs and average billing
If you’re in dire need of outside assistance, applying for a relief program is never out of the option, and your local utility company may even be able to direct you to some of these programs, most of which are federally funded.
Once you do apply, the program’s management will try to deduce exactly how important their assistance would actually be, and they’ll provide help to a degree they deem necessary for your circumstances.
Apart from the numerous federal options out there, you can also use websites like 211.org or FindHelp.org to locate any local organizations that may be able to offer assistance with your utility payments.
There are also agencies that will help you stay informed in the case of any changes being made to the current laws regarding these assistance programs, as some legislation may be able to influence your rights and protections.
Some utility companies may also offer you the ability to pay an average bill, which bumps your monthly payments down to a much lower amount in the cold winter months.
On top of this, it’s incredibly helpful if you’re trying to plan ahead, as you’ll have a general idea of how much money to set aside for each month of the year.
Reduce your energy usage
Naturally, one of the best ways to actually lower your utility bill to a point where it’s manageable is to decrease the amount of energy your household consumes in a single day.
It may not seem like much, but a number of small changes to how you treat electricity and heat can amount to a lot in the long run, and the best part of it all is that these adjustments are usually fairly affordable.
One thing you could do is purchase a smart plug, which will regulate when certain appliances in your home are operating, allowing you to have full control over what’s using energy and when, while also knowing exactly how much you’re spending.
You may also want to consider something like implementing a propane tank to use instead of a standard-issue gas stove, whereas you could replace your usual lighting with LEDs, which are both brighter and more cost-effective compared to standard lightbulbs.
For the evenings you spend with your family over dinner, you can choose to light up the room using candles, which can make for an enjoyable memory while also saving you some money.
Lower your other expenses
Finally, there’s the option of choosing to spend less on the other things in your life, which we all have plenty of, and there’s usually enough room to make minor budget cuts that won’t hurt as much but will help you make ends meet.
However, there’s always a way to save more, and by prioritizing only the things that really matter, you may be able to save a couple of extra dollars every month.
Start with subscription services, which are often forgotten by most, and once you actually explore this, you may find that you’re probably not using them enough to justify the monthly payments.
Being without heat or electricity in the cold winter months is scary, to say the least, and the last thing you’d want your family to experience is Christmas without lights and thanksgiving without a warm dinner for everyone.
Make sure to remember what really matters and to focus on making your finances work the way they’re supposed to, and if you do, it’ll be smooth sailing throughout the year when it comes to paying for the utilities and keeping your house warm.