Thursday, February 9

The Forgetful Person’s Guide to Paying Bills on Time

Paying your bills on time is the foundation of good money management, but sometimes, it’s a hard rule to follow. 

You’re busy, time flies, or you’re handling a family emergency. The next thing you know, you forget to pay an important bill — or several! 

It can happen to anyone. But when it happens to you, you’re stuck dealing with late fines and extra interest. You may even suffer a knock against your credit report.

Paying bills and building credit are hard enough without late fines and delinquencies complicating everything. So how can you improve your memory for due dates? 

Here are some steps you can take to make sure you pay your bills on time from now on. 

Step #1: Understand Your Bills, Online Loans, and Other Obligations

First things first, you want to know where your money has to go and when, so get familiar with all your bills and their payment schedules. 

Some common responsibilities may include:

  • Housing costs (rent, mortgage payments, condo fees)
  • Utilities (electricity, water, Internet, cable)
  • Online loans (cash advances, installment loans)
  • Credit cards and lines of credit
  • Car loan
  • Insurance (auto, life, health)
  • Subscription services
  • Cell phone 

Most of these expenses are due on a fixed monthly schedule but don’t take this for granted. Always double-check your accounts to understand your obligations. 

Step #2: Opt into Auto-Pays

Auto-pay is a forgetful person’s best friend. This method automatically transfers money from your account to your creditors, so you never have to remember to do it. 

To pay utility bills and insurance premiums online, you’ll have to make these creditors authorized payees on the account you use to pay bills. You’ll then be able to set up recurring payments, scheduling how much you’ll send to these creditors, from which account, and how often.

The same concept applies to online loans and other debts. You can authorize your lender to debit money according to your loan’s terms. This arrangement usually happens before you get a loan online, when you sign the contract, but you may update your payment information even after receiving your funds. 

Step #3: Set up Reminders

Auto-pay isn’t the best fit for everyone, especially if you’re always stretching your paycheck from one payday to the next. 

One day you might have to pay for an unexpected car repair, and you use the cash you need for other bills. If you don’t step in and pause your auto-pay system, your bank will pay these bills even when you don’t have the money. Say hello to costly overdraft fees!

If that sounds like something you want to avoid, paying your bills manually is still perfectly acceptable in 2021. But you’ll have to remind yourself to move around money in time.

Here are some dependable ways you can jog your memory:

  • Set up reminders in your phone’s calendar to ping you a few days before a bill is due. 
  • Allow creditors and online loan lenders to send you email or text reminders about your bills.
  • Download a money management app like Mint or Truebill to send notifications about upcoming bills.
  • Add due dates to an old-fashioned wall calendar if you don’t like using your phone.
  • Stick Post-it notes around your home in places you’ll see to keep you on task. 

Pay Bills on Time, Every Time

Do whatever it takes to remember important due dates — whether it’s autopay or a series of increasingly demanding Post-it notes. Your finances will thank you once you put an end to late fines, added interest, and credit damage!

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