Asked to rank their five least favorite things to do, odds are paying bills would be somewhere on everybody’s list. It’s not fun but it has to be done. Like most chores, paying bills can be easier to do when approached in a methodical fashion. With that in mind, here are some tips for managing your bills.
Keep a List
Having a list of your bills helps you make sure you don’t inadvertently overlook one. This could result in late fees, increased interest rates and a drop in your credit score. That’s right, many credit card issuers will seize upon a missed payment as an opportunity to jack up your interest rate. Some will impose fees, to boot. So, whether you use a spreadsheet, a note pad, a smartphone application or whatever, the first step toward managing your bills is keeping track of them.
Designate a Space
Having a place for everything and keeping everything in its place is good advice. If you get paper statements in the mail each month, put them in a file and keep that file in the space in which you pay bills every month. That way, they’ll always be close at hand when you sit down to complete the task. Looking all over your home for a misplaced statement can be both frustrating and time consuming.
Designate a Time
Choose the same date each month to pay bills. Whether it’s the first of the month, the fifth or the 15th. Just make sure you do so consistently. That way you won’t have to remember to do it. It will become habit.
“Today’s the fifth? Time to pay bills.”
Be Mindful of Due Dates and Grace Periods
Setting all your bills to come due around the same time lets you pay them all in one pass without encountering past due fees and penalties. This way, you get them all done in one fell swoop. Best of all, if you can pay off the previous month’s charges in full before the due date, you’ll avoid interest charges as well.
There’s a narrow window between the end of a credit card billing cycle and when payment is due. This window is known as the grace period. As long as your payment is made on or before the date it is due, you’re golden. By the way, most creditors will allow you to choose your own due date, so you can coordinate it with your pay periods.
You can learn more about this at the Achieve website.
Look Them Over First
Rather than just automatically paying the “amount due,” review each bill every month to see if all the charges are indeed your own. Mistakes happen. You might find unjust fees you can dispute, or worse, someone has stolen your identity and is making surreptitious charges to your accounts. Reviewing your bills also makes you come to grips with just how much you’re spending each month. This could help you redirect some of your spending to savings and investments.
Automatic Payments Can Be Helpful
Some creditors will give you discounts if you set up automatic payments. This can be a good way to go — as long you keep careful track of the payments, the dates they’ll be taken, and the balances due. You’ll need to always make sure the money’s there to cover the payment and you’ll want to make sure you aren’t being overcharged. Review the statement just as you would if you were paying the bill manually.
These six tips for managing your bills will help you make sure they’re always paid — and on time. You’ll save money in the long run, as well as prevent damage to your credit history.