Five ways to handle an unexpected bill

Pelena Cosme

Digital Content Producer

Gain tips on how to handle an unexpected bill. 

Getting a letter in the post asking you for an immediate payment can be very distressing and really throw you off. This is something extremely normal that all of us will experience at some point and by following these five simple steps, you can make the whole process of handling an out of the blue expense less stressful and feel empowered to handle all that comes with it.

In 2022 the Financial Conduct Authority found that 34% of UK adults had either no savings, or less than £1,000 in a savings account. So to receive an unexpected bill asking for a payment can understandably cause serious worry. It happens to the best of us; sometimes things slip our minds and we simply forget or there has been an error of sorts. Either way, taking the time to deal with the bill and getting to the bottom of it means that it doesn’t have to linger over you and cause you anxiety. The first reaction may be to ignore it and file it away somewhere, but with these realistic tips, you can feel confident.

These five tips can help you deal with an unexpected bill:

1. Communicate with the company

Once you have read the letter and checked the details but are still unsure as to why this expense has arisen, or are unable to make a payment by the date given on the letter, it may be necessary to call the company directly and to discuss the matter with them. You may be able to arrange a payment plan or go through any potential extensions that may be given to you. Outline any factors to support your asking for an extension such as no to little income or medical needs that should be taken into account. It’s important to make contact with the company so that early on, any help can be given to you.

2. Peace and calm

Ideally, even before receiving the bill through the door, trying to start the day in a place of peace and calmness can be helpful. Being grateful and positive means that the day has started on a good note and can help you deal with the day’s events as they unfold. Whatever it is. The worst thing that can happen is that the day has already started quite tense and negative, so to receive such a letter demanding money will further bring your overall mood down. Where possible, it pays to start the day in a way that is positive and uplifting.

3. Double check the details on the letter

It’s a good place to start with the letter itself, carefully reading the details and context. This can be difficult if the letter has bold text or red worrying sentences, and again, your first instinct may be to just not deal with it at all. But it’s important to slow down and read the whole thing to make sure you recognise the company that has sent the letter, your details are accurate and that the overall context is true. 

Use the official ways listed on the letter to call the company to double check everything, even using search engines to make sure the company is legitimate if you have never dealt with them before. 

Looking over the details means that once you contact the company you have all the information to hand and a better overall sense of what has caused the bill, how much is to be paid and that could settle any nerves. This tool can even help you out what you can afford to pay the creditor before contacting them so that you have a figure to hand whilst talking with them.

4. Prayer

Though we do not know what each day may bring, God does. God loves us and knows all things. Going to him asking for his help, comfort and to take control of the situation means we are able recognise our need for his limitless love and grace for us. He cares and by inviting him into a situation that is causing us worry, fear and panic, God can direct us to his peace.

5. Ask for help

If you are in any doubt or just need to have someone understand the letter and its contents, never feel shy about asking for help. There may be bigger consequences of not resolving this unexpected bill by a certain time so if you are feeling overwhelmed by it, please do get help. 

Depending on what the bill is more practical help could be available for example if it is an energy bill then some funding from your energy provider may be available. Here at CAP we are ready to help as well as other amazing organisations to talk you through your options and next steps.

Have you recently received an unexpected bill that is causing you to worry? Do you want help going through the next steps? Click here to look for support in your local area.


Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 

Philippians 4:6

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. 

Isaiah 26:3

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