Electricity and Gas
It’s important to pay your utility bills on time as it’s these utilities that provide us with our creature comforts. Here are a few tips on how to manage utility debt:
- Add your bills from the previous 12 months and divide the total by 26. This will give you your average fortnightly cost which is a starting point for forward planning so that you can set up a direct debit to pay utilities each fortnight. If you receive a Centrelink benefit then it can be deducted automatically through the Centrepay scheme; there is no charge for this service.
- Apply for Energy Accounts Payment Assistance vouchers (EAPA). This scheme helps people who are experiencing difficulty paying their electricity or gas bills because of a crisis or emergency situation such as: a loss of income; a very high bill (not for bottled gas); an illness; a family crisis; or unexpected expenses or bills. Each voucher is worth $30 and is issued by a participating community welfare organisation, such as the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation.
- Look at ways you can cut down on energy consumption. See Energy Australia’s website for more details as well as their Energy Wise newsletter. Refer to the Helpful Websites section of this booklet
Phones and Internet
Whether you like a good chinwag on the phone or can’t get enough of YouTube and eBay, phones and the internet have become a part of everyday life. Managing the costs that come with these conveniences are an important part of staying out of debt. Try these tips to stay ahead of the eight ball.
- Switch to a cheaper monthly plan for your phone, internet or both. This can be effective in reducing costs, but always read the fine print of your contract first.
- Make sure you stay within the usage terms of your contract for data and voice, as any extras will be billed at additional rates.
- Consider choosing a bundled or packaged plan that includes your mobile phone, landline and internet.
- Look at whether you can dispense with your landline altogether.
- Until your finances improve you can have your Telstra landline changed to a no-cost service that allows incoming and outgoing calls to emergency services. You must be an eligible pensioner or Health Care Card holder to apply for this.