Its pretty bad when you have to choose between...

February 4, 2012 3:27pm CST
... having no food in the house, or being fined for not keeping up your bill payments. I have been trying really hard to stay out of arrears but this week I couldn't pay anything, there was almost no food in my house, so I had to spend this week's money where it was most needed. I understand that these companies want their money, and I am willing to pay it, but it seems they don't understand why feeding my children comes first. I have told them all that we are in financial difficulty right now, but they don't care, they just make it harder for me by adding charges for late payments so I get further and further from clearing the arrears.
3 people like this
14 responses
4 Feb 12
There are ways to stop them adding fees, you know. If you fill out their financial assessment forms, they'll have to accept that you're in hardship and you can all but force them to stop adding charges on top. If they continue to do that and you're caught in the downward spiral of charges on charges, you can take your case to the financial ombudsman, who will force the companies to agree to a settlement and often refund a LOT of the extras they've added. I'm in the middle of doing this with my ex-bank - so far they've refunded over £1,700 of charges (and I've just started!) from the last 6+ years and I'm expecting a LOT more. It all comes down the "fairness" of the charges they added and, if you can prove you're in hardship (as we were here), you've got their backs to the wall, pretty much. I expect to hit my ex-bank for another five or six thousand pounds in all. Check out Martin's moneysavingexpert.co.uk site, under reclaiming charges (credit card, normal account, PPI, whatever) - there's a step-by-step there to getting your money back, which not only reduces the amount owed but also puts their demands on hold while you're disputing the amounts (which gives you time to recuperate). You know where I am if you need any other info: just message me.
1 person likes this
4 Feb 12
Oops, moneysavingexpert is a .com, not a .co.uk - sorry!
4 Feb 12
Thank you! I will have a look. I feel sorry for my kids, we won't be able to do much this summer. They are saving up their own money from doing jobs around the house so they can have a day trip to the seaside, but its horrible having to tell them they can't have things or go to places they usually go to.
1 person likes this
4 Feb 12
bank records - 5.7kg of bank records to look through... eeek!
Put it this way: my ex-bank are a bunch of total... well, you know. I asked for ALL the charges back (plus the 8% interest you're allowed to add) since the account was opened, as far back as I could get data - which is about 20 years. Credit card companies are allowed to charge you £12 admin, maximum. I had ONE charge of $36 (I think, off the top of my head) and about £550 made up of £12 charges... and they refunded ALL of those. Even though they didn't have to. Then I got a letter saying they wanted to settle on mis-sold PPI (loan insurance). That amused me because I hadn't asked about that. £1,200 thank you very much. Now I'm working on the big list of charges and expect to get the whole lot refunded. It takes time while you ask for your data and everything (and working through the pile of paper - see attached photo of my 5.7kg of paper records - takes a while) but you can put repayments on hold while you're disputing it, so you don't pay ANYTHING and they can't add more charges. Gives you some serious breathing space. Please take the time to look at that site: he has awesome info, templates and everything (not a referral, he's not selling anything as far as I've seen!). It really is SO worth it (and you get to feel good at stabbing the bankers in the back for being so mean, mwuhahahahaha!)
@Fishmomma (11504)
• United States
5 Feb 12
I'm sorry this is happening to you now. What about doing child care for somebody else? I realize you already have a lot to do now; however, it would mean a little more money for the bills. Many people are struggling right now, as my daughter just was hired. She was out of work for awhile.
1 person likes this
@yanzalong (10151)
• Indonesia
4 Feb 12
I also have regular bills that due on the 20th every month. If I don't pay electricity bills on time they will cut the line off. Electricity bill is one of the regular payments. There are still others like my kids's school fees, internet connections and housing security. Honestly, I can not make ends meet. I have to get an additional job that can give me extra money. What do you do, if you don't mind me asking you this question?
4 Feb 12
Do you mean for work? I have been a stay at home mum for over 6 years, my partner was working in retail but lost his job, he is now training as a plasterer to become self employed, so the only income we have is child benefits and jobseekers allowance and its not enough to live on. I have been looking for night work but as soon as they hear "I have 3 young children" they write me off, thinking I will be unreliable because I have commitments to my kids.
• United States
4 Feb 12
i have been there numerous times. i have no problems telling creditors that if they expect me to pay them before feeding my children, they better think again. can't no creditor expect you to starve or to starve your children. there's no reason to feel guilty over it either. everyone's facing hard times. it looks like you've been given a lot of good advice. i pray that things will go well for you and your family.
1 person likes this
• United States
4 Feb 12
you bet never let the children go hungry
@WakeUpKitty (8707)
• Netherlands
4 Feb 12
I am not talking about extra's but a fact is: food comes first. Especially if you have kids. No need to explain that or try to make them understand. The people working for those businesses have to do their job too. In some cases (at least where I live) it is possible to ask them not to add the charges for late payment. You could give it a try and ask if they at least are willing to do so. Explain by letter (mail) add a schedule with your income, the payments and the termine/time you can think you are able to pay it off.
1 person likes this
4 Feb 12
I think I can do that, but if I do, it makes my credit rating even worse. I plan to move home in the next few years and my credit isn't very good, I don't want to make it worse as I may not be able to get another mortgage.
@anne25penn (3310)
• Philippines
5 Feb 12
I know how this feels since growing up, we were in constant threat of being thrown in the streets because my mom couldn't pay the rent. My father had left us then and my mother couldn't find a job so there really came a time where we would go without food for days. I was nine years old at that time and I recall that instead of concentrating on our hunger, my mother would coax us children to try to sleep. But it is hard to sleep when your stomach is empty and it has been empty for days. I think God has ways of hearing his children when they cry for help because it was at this time that my grandmother who lives in Chicago helped us. It wasn't big, but her packages of food and $100 once or twice a year since then really helped us through those troubled times. At the wake of my mother I brought the pictures we had taken on that summer where we had no food for days. I guess my mother with the money given by my grandmother bought a roll of film so that she could send her pictures of us children. My aunt and uncle, the siblings of my mother were shocked seeing how thin they were and could not believe our story that we went hungry for days. They kept asking themselves why my mother never contacted them to ask for help. I also find it harsh with these companies that seem to squeeze tighter when you tell them that you are in a financial bind. They make it seem like they're not human and that they have never experienced any hardships and it is your fault that you are poor.
1 person likes this
@dorannmwin (36698)
• United States
8 Feb 12
I've actually had to make some of these choices as well. But, this month I was able to pay all of my bills up to date because we got our tax return back. Last month, for the first time since we've owned our house, I wasn't able to make our house payment on time because of the fact that things have been so tight for us. But, I figured it was worth the twenty dollar late fee to be late on paying the house payment to make sure that my children had food to eat.
9 Feb 12
Its got worse - I went to the supermarket to buy food and my card was declined, because there wasn't enough money in my account. I contacted the bank and they told me this is because they charged me over £70!!! for direct debits which I didn't have enough money to pay. So things weren't paid, and I got charged £8 per failed transaction - the transactions themselves ranging from just 39p to £3.45. How is that fair?
• United States
4 Feb 12
yes i know all about robbing Peter to pay Paul.]it is very difficult to make ends meet in this economy ;no matter what bill you have to let go feeding the children is top priority.
• United States
4 Feb 12
sorry worded that wrong.what i meant to say is,Never let the bills come before the children ,children first always
@cutepenguin (6457)
• Canada
5 Feb 12
I think a lot of people have been in your position but that, of course, doesn't make it any easier for you. I too would feed my kids first. Hopefully you can convince the company to not add any more charges.
@flower21 (766)
• Philippines
5 Feb 12
yes, it likely occur most of the time. you need to choose the first priority is your family well being. in my home, my mother prepare all the budget and those include the bills so we do not get penalty. there time we get lapses from payment but in the next time . we get to see that they get paid so we could avoid any trouble. to plan ahead s the key and set some amount for food and utility so you get out of debts.
@prinzcy (5058)
• Malaysia
5 Feb 12
For me, food comes first, then others. Each month I'll receive the sane letter from the bank about my car loan and to be honest, it's not that late. I don't even exceed the three months. They even send the court letter, threaten to use legal action. Whatever. I pay accordingly and I still have other payments to make. Just do whatever they want.
@paisible (20)
4 Feb 12
sorry to hear this , todays lots live the same problems as you do , me too included , this is due to the saVage face of captalism , if you hAve , you get what you desire , if you dont hAve , you Are put in the mArge , you worth as you have , any wy , I wish things get better for you soon ,
• United States
4 Feb 12
You can not let your kids or yourself starve. People with the bills have got to understand that. Maybe you can talk to them.
@lilaclady (28240)
• Australia
4 Feb 12
oh dear I hope things improve for you , I know how it is, these days things are so hard...