Day 2 – Energy Challenge – when you can’t pay your bill

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Most, if not all, Ms Frugal Ears readers are savvy with their money and don’t struggle to pay their bills.  But what if you know someone who is struggling with to pay their bills?  What if you get hit by a larger bill than expected and don’t know where to find the money to pay it?

I like to focus on the positives, about building abundance and investing wisely. But I am very much aware that many Australians will be struggling to pay for their energy bills this winter – especially in Canberra where we recently had the coldest weekend in 20 years and a price hike of nearly 20%.  Energy price increases in Canberra will add an additional $11.15 on average for the average household.

The main thing not to do is to suffer in cold and in silence.  If you are struggling to pay your bills, then speak to your energy utility.  We often have this view of energy companies as being hard-hearted, faceless corporate entitles making money from little people at any cost.  Actually, they also have tips on how to save money, reduce costs and, in some cases, to provide financial support.

In preparing this article, I had a chat with the people at ActewAGL, an energy provider in Canberra.  General Manager Ayesha Razzaq’s strong message to the community is “if you’re struggling to make ends meet don’t go without energy, please contact us as there are things we can do to help”.

Most energy providers have policies on what to do when people are experiencing hardship.  ActewAGL’s policy involves working with people to set up flexible and affordable payment plans, ensuring that electricity remains connected throughout through its Staying Connected program.  Yes, if you fess up about the problem they are not going to turn off your electricity in the middle of a cold Canberra night.  ActewAGL has invested $250,000 in creating an Energy Support Fund, which includes a dedicated bill hotline (13 12 93). It also works with community groups that provide services to people who are struggling.  This includes energy vouchers that are being handed out by community groups who provide emergency relief services.

So today’s challenge is fairly simple.  It is to ask yourself if you are going to have a problem paying your next winter energy bill. If the answer is yes, speak to your energy provider BEFORE it becomes a problem and work with them to find a solution.  If you are fine but know someone who is struggling, then also work with them to speak with their energy provider and work out a solution.

Wishing you warmth and abundance until the next challenge.  I would love to hear about how you are going with this challenge. Join with the many others who have signed up for the new Frugal Dare to Millionaire group in the last two days so that we can support each other to reduce our bills and save money.

Have you ever struggled to pay an energy or gas bill? If so, how did you get through it?

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