A mountain of bills?: Pay these five liabilities first

Sometimes the money is not enough from start to finish.

A mountain of bills?: Pay these five liabilities first

Sometimes the money is not enough from start to finish. But there are bills that should take precedence over others for good reason. What they are and what to watch out for.

High energy prices, high food prices - these and other items of expenditure are currently affecting many people. Money is often tight at the end of the month. Then it may make sense to prioritize the expenses. Finally, there are liabilities that it is not advisable to postpone - because otherwise there will be dire consequences.

You should definitely settle these five liabilities before anyone else:

1. Rent

Tenants who are in arrears with two full months' rent must expect termination without notice - there is a risk of homelessness. However, tenants cannot be thrown out on the street from one moment to the next. First, the landlord must file an eviction action. "It usually takes a few months for a court to uphold the lawsuit," says lawyer Christoph Zerhusen from the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer advice center in Düsseldorf.

In the meantime, the tenant side can apply for eviction protection. "She can be successful with that if, for example, she has two small children and the weather is wintry," says Zerhusen. His tip: as soon as you realize that paying the rent on time is not working, approach the landlord to ask for understanding and try to negotiate.

2. Energy bills

In addition to the rent, electricity and gas bills also have priority. Otherwise there is a risk of delivery blockage and contract termination - in the worst case it will be dark and cold at home. But here, too, a delivery ban cannot happen overnight. "First of all, the respective energy supply company has to warn about the backlog and promise a delivery ban," explains Johannes Allgeier from Cologne's debt relief agency.

Four weeks must have elapsed between receipt of the threat of suspension and a possible start of the suspension. In addition, the provider is obliged to announce the start of the block at least three working days in advance. Another requirement for a ban: "The arrears must be at least 100 euros," says Allgeier.

His tip: If it becomes apparent that you cannot pay your energy bills on time, you should contact the provider as soon as possible and explain the reasons. A deferral or payment in installments can often be agreed.

3. Maintenance

Maintenance payments also have priority. "After all, you want your own child or children to be doing well," says Ines Moers from the Federal Working Group for Debt Counseling. That is more important than, for example, paying a loan installment to a bank. Incidentally, many financial institutions offer the option of temporarily suspending loan installments in the event of payment difficulties.

4. Fines and Penalties

Fines and fines are also to be paid as soon as possible. Anyone who persistently ignores them and the corresponding warning notices may end up in prison. But it doesn't have to come to that. "It's also important here to take care of yourself and to openly address your financial problems," says Allgeier.

In general, those affected must signal their willingness to pay to the public prosecutor or to the courts. In many cases it is possible to pay the penalty in installments. Another option: do community service instead of a fine.

5. Insurance premiums

Health insurance and liability insurance are important. Anyone who is in arrears with the contributions for private health insurance, for example, must expect to slip into the basic tariff - which only covers emergency care. If liability is canceled due to premium arrears and you then cause damage, it can be extremely expensive.

With many other insurance companies, the policy should be reviewed at the very latest when you realize that you cannot pay the premiums. "People are often completely over-insured and it's worth deliberately canceling insurance to have more money for other payments," says Moers.

If you find yourself having trouble with your money, seek help as soon as possible. "Unfortunately, the topic is still associated with shame," says Nina Rüther, head of Cologne's debt relief agency. Many sufferers tend to use up their savings and borrow money from family or friends before seeking professional help.

Here you will find quick help

There is quick help, for example, with the free and anonymous advice provided by the Stiftung Deutschland im Plus in cooperation with the Cologne debt relief agency. You can contact the experts online or via the advice hotline on 49 800 5 03 58 51. There are many other certified debt advice centers nationwide.

In order to stabilize the income side, government support can be helpful. "In addition to energy aid, for example, there are ongoing benefits such as housing benefit, which many people do not claim even though they are entitled to it," says Moers.

There are also foundations or neighborhood initiatives that can provide help - or employers that grant wage increases or loans. "Unfortunately, many people do not dare to ask for such help or do not know the various options," says Moers.

And what helps to get or keep your own finances under control? "The good old household book, which is now also available as an app," says Ute Scharnagl, board member of the Deutschland im Plus foundation. This allows you to track exactly where the money has gone and where there are savings opportunities.

Another tip from her: Divide up the available money at the beginning of the month and put certain amounts in envelopes labeled “leisure time” or “drugstore supplies”. This is another way to keep track of your finances.

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