Need Help Paying Bills? 11 Organizations That Can Help

Stephen Sheehan
Jul 19, 2022

The pandemic, high inflation rates, and elevated gas prices are impacting everyone from car lessees to homeowners across the country. Americans could use help paying bills more than ever! And when you’re forced to decide between buying groceries or keeping the lights on, there’s more than an energy crisis going on.

Luckily for low-income households and others in need of financial assistance, there are government programs and non-profits that can help ease some of the burden. For example, if you meet certain eligibility requirements, you may be able to save on your electric bill without making any changes to your energy efficiency.

So, even though times may be tough, that doesn’t mean you should feel alone. From bill-assistance organizations run by the federal government to social services available locally, find out how to get help with utilities, rent, health care, and other costs of living.

By leaning on these resources and implementing some of the money-saving tips outlined below, you can improve your financial health and gain your freedom back.

Need Help Paying Bills

Whether it’s because of a loss of income, the state of the economy, or other factors, many people have had to face the reality of their financial situations. In fact, even those who don’t meet federal poverty guidelines now need help paying energy bills and other necessary expenses.

Where should you start your search for payment assistance? Benefits.gov is a great place to begin. It provides a comprehensive list of service providers and programs designed to take some of the load off your shoulders.

You can obtain help in a variety of areas, including disaster relief, health care, and medical assistance, financial assistance, and Social Security. In addition, you can find information on family and children's services, grants and housing, and public utilities.

Need a little cash? Try a Possible Loan.

Bill Assistance Organizations

Worried about a potential utility shut-off? Concerned about the rising cost of rent impacting your ability to put food on the table? Learn more about the various organizations that provide help paying bills so you don’t have to stress quite so much.

1. Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Can’t afford to pay your energy bills? If you meet the eligibility requirements, LIHEAP provides payment assistance, as well as emergency services in cases of an energy crisis, such as utility shutoffs.

2. Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)

WAP provides households with free services aimed at improving the energy efficiency of homes. Eligible households can use this program to upgrade appliances and improve existing heating, cooling, and electrical systems to lower overall energy costs.

3. Medicaid

The largest source of funding for health care services for low-income individuals in the United States, Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides coverage to nearly 73 million Americans. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 created a new methodology for determining income eligibility, with Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) now used as the basis for qualification.

4. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

As the largest federal nutrition assistance program, SNAP provides benefits to low-income individuals and families who meet the eligibility requirements via an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. Instead of using food stamps, participants can utilize the card to purchase eligible food in authorized food retail stores.

5. Rental Assistance

Operated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Rental Assistance helps in a number of ways. For example, you can use a Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) to pay for all—or part—of your rent.

6. Emergency Rental Assistance program

Administered through the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Emergency Rental Assistance program provides funding to assist households that are unable to pay rent or utility bills. While this issue existed before the pandemic, the impact of COVID-19 led to the establishment of two separate programs aimed to keep families in their homes.

7. Supplemental Security Income (SSI

Funded by general tax revenues, SSI supports disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources, as well as those who are 65 and older who may need financial assistance. This program provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.

Finding Local Help with Utilities and Other Bills

Looking for local help paying bills? Here are some resources to consider:

8. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Not only does this department administer programs that provide housing and community development assistance, but it also works to ensure fair and equal housing. Use HUD’s main website to find state-specific support, including contact information for local housing counselors.

9. United Way 211

Whether it’s housing or utility bills, food programs, benefits, or health care resources, United Way is just a simple three-digit phone call away. The 211 network responds to millions of requests for help annually, with more than 200 local organizations committed to serving their communities.

10. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, TANF gives states and territories the ability to give financial assistance to low-income families and children who qualify in the form of monthly cash payments. This program is organized into 10 regions, but the federal government does not provide any cash assistance directly to the public.

11. Social services

Social services is a broad spectrum of programs that improve the well-being of individuals, families, and communities. From SNAP to child care and after-school programs to resources for seniors and people with disabilities, you can find help in a number of key areas.

How to Spot a Scam

Like you should with any money-related decision, do your due diligence before you make any commitments to supposed bill assistance organizations. Unfortunately, not everyone is out to truly help others. As a result, there are plenty of too-good-to-be-true “programs” and people who are ready to take advantage of the needy.

How can you protect yourself from scammers? Start with Charity Navigator, which has evaluated nonprofits for more than two decades, empowering donors with free access to data, tools, and resources to steer them in the right philanthropic direction. Impressively, the organization has rated nearly 200,000 charities since its inception. A simple search can provide you with peace of mind about donations or contacting a nonprofit for help.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, here are some ways to spot an emergency rental assistance scam:

  • If you receive an email, text, call or social media message from someone claiming to be with the federal government.
  • If you’re asked for cash, gift cards, wire transfers, cryptocurrency, or other forms of payment to help you get rental assistance.
  • If you get an email or text with a link to a government website, it could be a scam. Scammers often use official logos or create fake sites to trick users, so it could be worth your while to instead search for the site using a search engine to see if the site appears, or if there are warnings about a scam in the results.

Tips to Save Where You Can

Even if you secure help with utilities and bill payments, there are ways to continue to adjust spending and possibly stash a little money away for a future emergency.

Note: be sure you carefully read income requirements and make sure that any savings you are able to accrue won't affect your eligibility for any government programs you're on! You don't want to graduate from your assistance before you're firmly back on your feet, so be aware what actions can help or hurt you.

Finance:

  • Use apps to track your spending
  • Plan out major purchases
  • Set specific savings goals

Auto:

  • Consider an eclectic or hybrid vehicle 
  • Inquire about car insurance discounts
  • Carpool with neighbors, friends, and family
  • Look for gas incentive cards and programs
  • Request a remote or hybrid work setup to cut down on commuting

Food:

  • Create a weekly or monthly meal plan before shopping
  • Clip coupons and look for BOGO grocery deals
  • Minimize food waste and repurpose leftovers
  • Make more meals at home to cut down on dining out
  • Try to prep meals ahead of time to reduce the burden of cooking every night

Utilities:

  • Go paperless with your utility bills
  • Bundle your TV and internet services, or reduce service
  • Research if your service contract can be adjusted to save costs
  • Lower your energy costs through a reduction in usage or energy-saving measures

Lifestyle:

  • Cancel unnecessary subscriptions
  • Use prescription discount codes or coupons
  • Look for low-cost or free entertainment options
  • Work out from home or outside instead of paying for the gym

The Bottom Line

You shouldn’t be ashamed if you need help paying bills. Federal and state programs as well as local nonprofits can provide short-term support as you navigate out of a difficult financial situation.

And by following money-saving strategies along the way, your bill-payment worries will start to fade away as you get back on your feet.

Stephen Sheehan

Stephen Sheehan is an experienced writer and editor with a diverse portfolio. The two-time University of Florida graduate gained a deeper appreciation for his financial health while living abroad, and aims to help others become more financially independent. When he's not writing, Stephen enjoys playing rugby, strumming his guitar, working out, and cooking.

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