Here’s something you already kinda knew:
Paying your bills late is the financial equivalent of a daily doughnut habit when you’re trying to lose weight; a recipe for disaster.
It seems as easy to say “eat kale, not doughnuts” as it does to say “pay your bills on time,” but you know the saying… some things are easier said than done.
Still, we know it’s important to pay our bills on time. We want to avoid late fees, penalties, interest, a drop in our credit score and the loss of sleep and sanity. Plus, who wants to feel like they suck at adulting? Who is proud of themselves when they get an ‘overdue’ notice? Not me. And I don’t think it’s you either.
So let’s get to it. Here are the 5 steps to paying bills on time:
Step 1: Have enough money
Most of us immediately go to figuring out how to make more money, but the smarter place to start is by cutting out the spending fat. If you can reduce the number of bills or the size of the bills you have, you’ll go a long way towards knowing that you’ll be able to pay your bills when they’re due.
Ask yourself if you really need or value each product or service you’re paying for. If the answer is yes, ask yourself if you need as much of it as you’re currently getting/using. Think deeply about this with your highest personal values and priorities in mind.
Step 2: Align the day(s) that your bills are due
Instead of being a constant bill paying machine throughout the month, you can pay all your bills on the same one or two days a month by changing your bills’ due dates to line up with a ‘bill pay date’ that you pre-select. It’s a little bit of work up front but the payoff cannot be understated. For me, my ‘bill pay date’ is the 1st of the month and the ‘bill due date’ for each bill falls somewhere between the 7th and 10th. This way I pay all my bills once a month, and they’re always paid on time.
Step 3: Get a hard (paper) copy of each bill
I’m all about being environmentally and tech savvy, but there’s something about having my bills in paper that organizes me like nothing else. I’ve never missed a bill that I got in the mail (knock on wood). If I had a printer (little known fact about me, I don’t own one because I feel like they
always break down on me), I could print them out. I would worry though that a bill would get buried under a hundred other emails and overlooked though. Whatever method works for you, get a hard copy of each bill.
Step 4: Collect your mail on a schedule
Pick two days of the week to grab your mail, ideally when you have the time and energy to sort through each piece and deal with any issues you find (about 5 mins). Collect your bills in a single folder until it’s time to pay them . Quick tip: actually look at the bill, the amount owed and check for any mistakes.
Step 5: Keep a list of bills
As you sit down to pay bills, review a complete list of all your bills. That way, if a bill got lost on its way to your mailbox or is stuck in your inbox, you’ll remember to go looking for it. Unfortunately, you’re still responsible for paying a bill on time even if it gets lost en route to you. It’s an easy way to create safety net, well worth the 5 minutes it’ll take you to make the list.
Lastly, let me point something out to you that’s not on this list: automatic withdrawals from your checking account. They’re often a booby trap if you’re not definitively financially fit. We recommend paying via online bill pay or using good ole fashion checks.
Happy (timely) bill paying!