In August, when the summer sun is scorching, it seems strange to be thinking about heating your home. But the reality is that actions not taken in the summer can negatively impact you as the weather turns cold. When people struggle with utility bills, the thought is sometimes to let it slide. After all, you don’t need heat in the summer. This can end up being a very costly mistake.
All states have guidelines for utility companies, preventing them from turning off power in cold weather. That is good news and ensures that a family’s power can’t be shut off in sub-zero temps and create a life-threatening situation. To compensate for these laws the utility companies have been known to aggressively use their shut-off capabilities in the months preceding cold weather. If your utilities are shut-off, it will cost you, as fines and reconnect fees are added to the amount of the overdue bill. If you are behind on your utility bills, you could be putting yourself in jeopardy of a utility shut-off.
Don’t ignore overdue utility bills. If you are having trouble with your bills, you have options.
Contact your provider to:
Try to work out a plan.
See if you can get on a monthly plan that averages your annual cost into uniform monthly payments.
Ask about utility conservation assistance programs to help you reduce your usage.
LIHEAP has funds available for those households that meet their guideline.
Contact the National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR) project at 866-674-6327 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some of the results from our recent bookseller survey both surprised and saddened us. While 31% of you said you had been in a position of needing emergency assistance in the past two years, only 7.6% of you applied to Binc for help. Our goal has always been to have every bookseller in need look to Binc for assistance. We want you all to Think Binc first when you need help. We know we have a long way to go to reach that goal, and only when each and every booksellers reaches out to Binc first will we have succeeded. To help reach that goal, we need to clear up some common misconceptions about the Foundation.
Here are the reasons booksellers gave for not applying to Binc, and why those reasons shouldn’t deter you.
“I wasn’t aware Binc existed.” We are working hard to reach each and every bookseller across the country. With the help of the ABA, the regional bookseller associations, Ingram, edelweiss, Shelf Awareness, Publishers Weekly, industry leaders, bookstore owners & managers and booksellers, we have made great strides. But clearly we have farther to go. You can help as well; when you visit bookstores be sure to tell the bookstore employees about Binc. Remind them to ThinkBinc!
“I didn’t think I’d qualify.” We want every bookseller with a need to call us. Often when a you think you won’t qualify, you do. Give us a chance to talk about your challenge and see how Binc can help. We can’t always give a financial grant, but we promise to not leave you without resources to help you through your situation.
“I was afraid others would find out.” We pride ourselves on confidential and compassionate service. You can call Binc toll free at 866-733-9064 or email us at email@example.com, apply, receive assistance and no one outside Binc will ever know. We never reveal the names of any of our grant recipients without their full and enthusiastic approval.
“I was too embarrassed to ask for assistance.” Binc isn’t here to judge, we are here to help. Needing a helping hand shouldn’t be embarrassing, we all need a little help now and then. Binc wants to help at the first sign of the hardship, saving you months of potential stress over how to pay your bills.
“It seemed like too much paperwork.” We try to simplify the application process, asking for only the documents we are legally required to collect. We have streamlined our application as much as possible. We want the process to be easy and not to create more stress for you.
“The whole process was confusing.” We know that the stress of a financial hardship can be overwhelming. Call us and we can walk you through the steps to apply. Don’t let temporary confusion lead to an overwhelming debt burden in the future.
“I figured there was somebody else who might have a bigger need.” If you are having trouble paying your bills, then there is no one with a bigger need. We are constantly working to raise funds from industry supporters to make sure that there will always be enough money to cover bookseller’s needs, big or small. Also, we know that helping someone with a small need today can prevent it from turning into a larger need down the road.
“I’m a bookstore owner, not an employee.” If you make your living from the bookstore, whether owner or employee, then you are eligible. Owners can have needs that are just as great as their employees. Often, helping an owner overcome personal financial hardships is what allows the bookstore to remain open, and therefore keeping other bookselling jobs.
“My bookstore closed, so I wasn’t eligible.” Binc can now help employees who qualify for up to 12 months after the closing of the bookstore.
“I received enough support through other channels.” OK, this may be the only answer that is acceptable. But for those who don’t have other alternatives, ThinkBinc!
If this letter has any effect, we hope it is to encourage you and your fellow booksellers to call us. We only exist to help booksellers through whatever life throws at you. Whether we help by paying your bills, provide you with additional resources in your area, help you mediate medical bills, or combination of all three, we promise to do all we can to help you get through the difficulty you are facing.
Remember, there is a 100% chance we won’t help if you don’t contact us!
Flipping on a light switch or turning up the thermostat are things that most people take for granted. Having light and heat on a cold winter’s night provides comfort and safety for families everywhere. But, what if you didn’t have the option of keeping your lights and heat on because you couldn’t pay your bills?
The Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation knows that even small setbacks can have significant impact on a bookseller’s life. Because of that, the assistance provided by the Binc Foundation is geared to get booksellers quickly back on their feet and doing what they love – connecting their community with the books and authors to enhance their lives.
Since 1996, the Binc Foundation has assisted booksellers facing a variety of hardships, saving them from financial disaster and forever changing their lives. Binc has become a critical link in ensuring that booksellers, who may face financial difficulties, have a safety net.
“Binc’s help literally stopped a disconnect in progress. No cooking gas, no hot water, no heat on cold nights – it would have been a huge problem. I’m still blown away at how quickly my request for gas bill disconnect was paid.” That is what a Chicago bookseller had to say about the Foundation’s help with keeping her utilities connected. Binc understands that to prevent a utility shut-off quick action is needed, and for that reason, we strive to review bookseller requests expediently.