Utility Bills 101 – What are utility bills? The term utility bill refers to the cost an office or household has to pay for their electricity, gas, or water for each month and will vary depending on your energy usage. There are several local as well as national governments that have taken steps to regulate the profits that utility companies earn by putting a specific amount on how much they can charge their customers. These utility bills are among the expenses that you should allocate money for each month.
What Kinds Of Utility Payments Should You Prepare For?
Your budget may be revolving around your mortgage, taxes, insurance policies, and others that are linked to homeownership, but there are other expenses that you need to take into account such as your utility bills.
Among these are:
- Electricity and gas. Your electricity, as well as natural gas, can help provide you with lights and power as well as heating with the cost changing depending on your usage. Your usage is related to the size of your home and how much electricity and gas you will need to keep everyone comfortable.
- Trash and recycling. Another utility billing that you will need to pay is for the waste removal. There will be three types of trash cans that you should have on hand which are for garbage, yard or organic waste, and clean recyclables. The bill for this service is usually fixed.
- Water and sewer. Water and sewer utility should be running in your house and these are under the public utility commission of the city. The monthly bill will cover all the water that you are using in your home. The cost is based on the meter size plus the amount of water used up in a month. If you will be moving into a new home, it is better that you check the size of the meter so you will have an idea on how much you will be paying for it every month and to gauge your water usage as well.
How To Find Utility Bills For An Address?
If you are planning to buy a new home, or will be renting one, you’re probably wondering how to find utility bills for an address. First things first, you need to determine what the house needs, like electricity, water as well as sewer service, but there are some areas that do not require natural gas. Once you have determined what your house will need, use the property’s zip code to make an online search for the city as well as county utility companies and call them up as early as possible. It would be a good idea to discuss the previous bills with the realtor so you can have an estimate on the cost of the utility bills in your home.
How Long To Keep Utility Bills?
It’s great that utility providers are now offering paperless billing to their customers, as well as online utility bill payment to save you hours waiting in line and such, and although you may think that this means that you will no longer need to save your bills from public utilities, but this isn’t so. If you are wondering how long to keep utility bills and others here’s what you need to know.
- Utility/phone/cable bills. You can hold these bills up to a year, or you can throw them away as soon as you have checked that they are correct. On the other hand, if you are going to deduct them from your income tax return, you will need to save them along with your tax returns.
- Insurance policies. It is important to hold on your insurance bills for your car, home, or umbrella insurance at least a year or until you renew your policies. For long-term care, life, or insurance policies for your disability, you will need to keep them while they are still active.
- Credit card statements. If you have ensured that the contents of your credit card bill are correct, you can throw it away already. However, if you bought something huge with your credit card, and the lender is providing you with product protection, you should hold on to the bill for a while. Take note that if there is a deductible purchase on your statement, you may want to hold on to it until your tax returns.
- Pay stubs. If you still have pay stubs, you can dispose of them once you have reconciled them with your W-2 at year’s end. However, if you are going to apply for a mortgage, the lender may ask you to show a few months’ worths of stubs.
How Does Your Utility Bill Affect Your Credit Score?
If you want to build your credit score, then you can start with asking for a loan and paying it on time. The more you pay your dues on time, the better your credit will become. The question now, however, is whether paying your utility bills on time can have an impact on your credit. Well, this does not have any direct impact on regular credit scores but there are certain exceptions:
- If you become late in your payments for your utility bills to the point that collection agencies have to call you up, it can affect your credit rating.
- Your regular payment on utility bills may help if an alternative credit score is used for your loan application.
The problem with not paying your utility bills on time is that the utility companies tend to report them, especially when they are given to collection companies. The problem will only get worse if the collection agency has filed a case against you which can affect your credit score. Fortunately, these collection agencies will only step in when you haven’t been paying your bills for several months.
How to Get Utility Services?
Applying for utility services is necessary if you will be moving to a home or apartment under your name. The application process is relatively easy as you can call them up, apply online, or visit their offices. Take note that when you apply for utility services, you are asking for credit, which means that the lenders will be checking your credit history by asking for your social security number. If you have built a good credit history then the application process will run smoothly, on the other hand, if you have poor credit history, the task will be more challenging.
What You Need to Know About Paying Utility Bills After Death
It is understandable that you are concerned about paying utility bills after death as we are never too sure on how long we will be here. Accidents can happen and sickness may take us, which is why it is a good idea to learn a thing about how your utilities are paid upon your death.
Take note that any unpaid bills will be paid by the assets that you have left behind. There are instances, however, when family members will be tasked to paying off your bills, such as in the case of credit card when you have a joint account holder, or when it comes to your home equity loan if someone will be inheriting your home upon your death. The lender can force the new owner to pay off the loan equity or come to terms with them with regards to the unpaid home equity loan.
Any debts incurred while you were living will be the responsibility of the estate upon your death. Probate is the term used to refer to the process of paying any debts and then distributing all that is left of your properties. Your estate’s executor will be the one responsible for handling all unpaid bills and will use any assets you have left behind to pay them off as needed. If your assets aren’t enough to cover everything, the creditors won’t have anything to recover.
Any debts incurred while you were living will be the responsibility of the estate upon your death. Probate is the term used to refer to the process of paying any debts and then distributing all that is left of your properties. Your estate’s executor will be the one responsible for handling all unpaid bills and will use any assets you have left behind to pay them off as needed. If your assets aren’t enough to cover everything, the creditors won’t have anything to recover. Settling an Estate: Paying Bills, Dues, and Other Expenses
If you are left to handle the estate of the deceased, you may be wondering how paying utility bills after death works.
The bills, as well as dues, are usually divided into two types which are:
Administrative expenses are these ongoing bills like utilities, insurance, mortgage or rent even that should be paid especially if you will be using them. These bills need to be paid even while the process of probate is not yet done. It would be a good idea to transfer the bills to your name or to the name of the person who will be using the utilities. On the other hand, if the utilities and other administrative expenses will be abandoned, the executor of the estate will have to pay the dues.
Final bills, on the other hand, are those bills that need to be paid in full which is only done once the probate is finished. Examples of final bills are credit card bills, taxes, as well as medical bills. The executor of the estate will pay the bills once the probate is completed.