When someone is imprisoned, their responsibilities in the outside world don’t magically disappear. Their pending bills, such as utility, rent, and insurance premiums, still need to be paid. These expenses can spiral out of control if left unchecked. While nobody wants to be incarcerated, it’s worth knowing how to pay bills while in jail is worth it.
But instead of jumping right into paying the bills, let’s first discuss some other financial matters you could face while behind bars. It can help you better prepare yourself.
What Happens to Your Money When You’re in Jail?
Whether your money stays in your bank account depends on what crime you’ve been convicted of. In general, the government will likely order the bank to freeze your account if they suspect you committed crimes for monetary gain. These can include money laundering, forging checks, or selling drugs.
Otherwise, your money will remain in the bank account.
Keep in mind that many banks freeze accounts that remain inactive for several months. You can request that your bank unfreeze your account once you get out. But you won’t have to worry much about this if you have a short sentence, such as three months.
You Won’t Be Able to Access Your Bank Account
Even if the bank doesn’t freeze your account, you won’t be able to access your money while incarcerated. You’ll have to figure out how to pay bills while in jail another way.
Instead, you can maintain an inmate trust fund, which lets you buy from the prison commissary.
However, you might have a tight budget, as you’ll likely need to rely only on family and friends to deposit money into your trust account. Most inmates don’t get paid when working in Texas jails.
Your Debts Stay with You
Besides your bills, any debts you have will follow you to jail, such as your mortgage and personal loan payments. So you’ll still need to factor your debts into your monthly expenses if you don’t want them to accumulate and overwhelm you after you finish serving your sentence.
Furthermore, not making payments on time while in prison will lower your credit score. This can make it more difficult for you to get a loan approved once you’re free.
How to Pay Bills While in Jail
Dealing with expenses from the outside world is a struggle for anyone in jail. Fortunately, we’ve compiled some tips to help you with your bills.
Have Someone You Trust Represent You
Since you can’t access your bank account and pay the bills yourself, you’ll need someone on the outside to do it for you. You can appoint a family member or a friend to handle your financial affairs, including any payments you need to make.
Be sure you’re giving this responsibility to someone you absolutely trust, as it can be easy for others to take advantage of your assets while you remain clueless in jail. Consider signing a legal agreement with whoever you appoint to limit their freedom over your bank accounts.
Before going to jail, inform your creditors that you will have someone else pay in your stead to avoid any confusion with payments.
Get a Joint Account
If you’re not keen on having someone else handle your bank account, open a joint account with your trusted person before heading to jail. That way, you can transfer some of your money to the account and have your trustee use the money to pay the bills.
This option is easier if you can figure out exactly how much you need for your payments while you’re gone, especially if you don’t have a lot of extra cash to work with.
Consider Closing Unnecessary Accounts
Want to reduce the bills you have to pay and save money? If you still have time, you can close any accounts and subscriptions you don’t need. For example, you can cancel your Netflix or Hulu subscriptions since you won’t be able to use them in jail. If you don’t owe any balance or can easily pay it off, consider canceling your credit card to avoid paying membership fees.
Ask Your Creditors for Deferrals
In some scenarios, inmates might be unable to pay their bills while in jail. For example, they may have no one outside they can trust with their finances. If you face a similar situation, ask your creditor to defer your payments. If they agree, you’ll only have to resume paying them after you’re out of jail.
Keep in mind that creditors aren’t obligated to defer payments. However, they’re more open to this request if you’ll only be in jail for a short time, as they won’t have to wait too long to get paid.
How to Recover Financially After Your Release
Knowing how to pay bills while in jail is only half the battle if you want to recover financially. Here are some pointers to help you get a better grip on your finances after your incarceration.
Plan Ahead of Time
Did you know that inmates usually only get a bus ticket and $50 when they get out of jail? And if they are state jail prisoners, they don’t get any money at all. This can make anyone feel lost and anxious unless they already know what to do beforehand.
You can start planning your recovery even while you’re in jail. Besides tackling your debt, other considerations include:
- Housing: Will you stay with a loved one, or do you need to budget for accommodations elsewhere?
- Employment: What work are you aiming for when you get out? Can you return to your old job? What job training opportunities can you sign up for in jail?
Build Your Resume
Having a steady income is crucial to recovering financially. Unfortunately, one of the most difficult challenges ex-inmates face is landing a job. Apart from Austin, the rest of Texas doesn’t have Ban the Box laws, which means employers may ask about your criminal history and could reject your job application.
However, having an impressive resume can help attract more open-minded employers. Make sure to have referrals from authority figures, such as your parole officer or past bosses, that can prove your trustworthiness at work. You should also list all the job skills you’ve picked up at programs in jail.
You can also search for ex-felon employment support services. They can help you get a job with companies that accept formerly incarcerated applicants.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, people in jail are more likely to have problems with addictions and other mental health disorders.
It’s best to start seeking treatment right away, even while you’re in jail. It will be harder to recover financially if you still struggle with drug or alcohol use. Not only will it be more tempting to spend your money on your addiction, but substance abuse may also affect your productivity.
Check for Programs and Benefits
If you still struggle with finding a job, you can check with groups and programs that can provide some financial assistance. For instance, Catholic Charities USA offers assisted housing programs. Meanwhile, you can apply for Social Security benefits if you’ve worked for enough years and your situation makes you eligible.
You can also approach Texas’ reentry programs to help get you back on your feet.
Get Your Life Back on Track after Jail
Learning how to pay bills while in jail can certainly help lessen your financial burden after you’re done with your sentence. However, you may still face some trouble with your expenses later, so don’t hesitate to approach Power Finance Texas if you need cash fast. We can approve your loan requests even if your credit score takes a hit due to your time in jail.
Feel free to check out our loan options on our website.