It’s a question I asked myself frequently when I was in a pit of despair, “how am I going to afford the gas or electricity bill?”
There isn’t always an easy answer, as I found. I thought I’d share this socially to see if anybody else had a similar experience of struggling to manage gas and electricity bills while repaying debt.
Unemployment Can Be Cold!
I experienced a period of unemployment. Well, I call it a period but that’s not exactly quantifiable. It was over a year of unemployment.
Prior to losing my job I paid my debts, managed my money and lived a happy life. When I was made redundant I didn’t receive a huge package to help us survive and the economic climate meant getting a new job was going to be tough. I did everything possible to get a job and even applied for jobs outwith my skill set and comfort zone. Still, despite being invited to interviews, I remained unemployed.
It’s a cold and harrowing experience. But having gone through it I have an inside knowledge and feeling about the entire process. I gave up Sky TV immediately and that’s expected! I gave up all luxuries to be honest, which again, I would expect. However, people who are unemployed and with children in developed countries should not be made to live below the bread line.
At times, I had to choose between my credit card debt and eating. This is the problem when the Government assesses how much a person requires to survive, they can’t take into account debts. I was paying less than the minimum payment but it still wasn’t enough.
Why Did I Pay My Credit Card Debt?
For much of my time being unemployed my family and I made every penny last! Your standard of living drops to the lowest level you can imagine. I’m not talking about reducing my sky TV package to £16 a month, I mean, how many meals can we afford today? When will we be able to turn the lights on and will we be able to buy clothes for our children. In a developed country you wouldn’t expect to be socially excluded after years of paying into the system via taxes.
On reflection, I can see that despite all of the complex juggling of finances I made I always made one payment above all else; the payment towards the credit cards.
When times were tough i always made sure I paid something towards the credit cards, even £5 to each. But that was say £30 per month. That could have been money towards food, clothing, heating etc.
I think about that decision a lot.
How could I be so blinkered as to make a decision about paying my debts above having enough food for my family? Then I remembered, a payment of £5 meant I didn’t have the credit card companies on the phone daily. That seemed worth the £5. I also had the shame of being in debt hanging around my neck, weighing me down until it felt like the air was being choked out of me.
Gas / Electricity Costs
The cost of gas and electricity is on the rise constantly. The poor, old, unemployed or sick and not necessarily able to afford to heat or light their house.
Should the Government step in here to help those most in need?
Gas and electricity is required to survive in the UK. The cost of the precious fuel has increased in price by 40% in two years, with expected increases still to come.
The previous Government offered cost savings to the elderly which the existing Government, the Conservative party, have withdrawn. This means the elderly are literally freezing to death. That sounds dramatic but let me tell you that it’s true.
Paying Into The System
You are asked to pay into the system by way of taxes and national insurance. This is to help the economy and I’m fully behind this. However, what does “paying into the system” mean? I believe it should mean that basic living standards are met for people who have paid into making the UK what it is today.
That doesn’t mean the Government should pay a person’s debt, but £127 every two weeks on jobseekers allowance is laughable. We also received child benefit, which doesn’t go far. Our mortgage, which had no equity, was eventually supported under the Government’s Mortgage Rescue Scheme. However, that would have only lasted for 2 years and paid the interest on the mortgage.
Let’s presume I didn’t have a job after two years, which is not unexpected in this climate. What would have happened? I couldn’t sell the property in this climate. I couldn’t pay the mortgage. I would have been forced to leave the property, have it repossessed and add the shortfall in the mortgage after fees would have been added to my debt.
I’ve struggled with gas and electricity before and I don’t want others to struggle. Please heat and light your property. Tell your creditors there’s nothing else you can afford. Seek debt help from a registered debt advice charity for professional debt help and support with gas and electricity bills.