We all have bills, and while not having to pay them would be ideal, it just is not realistic. Although we know they need to be paid, often life gets in the way and payments do not get out on time. This can result in unnecessary late fees and nicks on a credit report. Here are 21 ways to consolidate and pay your bills on time.
21 Ways to Consolidate & Pay Your Bills on Time
1. Understand the penalties and benefits each bill has in terms of when it is paid. Credit cards often charge significantly higher late fees, which may change your mindset about paying your bill. Other companies may offer a small discount if you pay your bill early, which can be used to make future payments.
2. The Guide to Invoicing recommends that you plan on paying bills one week early so that if money isn’t in your account, you have a week to come up with it.
3. Renegotiate terms with the company you owe money as a way to shrink the payment size through a better interest rate. This may help free up funds to get those expenses paid on time.
4. Open all your bills immediately when they come in the mail. While you may not want to think about it, the reality is that you owe money, so looking at them now will keep them top of mind.
5. Place all your bills and statements in one place. Have a designated box or file folder where they can live until you pay them.
6. Leverage new technology to organize all your bills. For example, MoneyStream provides a way to keep all your expenses and cash flow in one place, including reports that show you where your money goes each month.
7. Develop a calendar system that marks out when each bill is due. Typically, your recurring bills are due about the same time each month. Also add non-recurring bills to your online or paper calendar.
8. Set a reminder on your smartphone a few days ahead to remind you when to pay the bills. You can use your calendar to chime when it’s time to make payments.
9. Decide on a regular time each month to make manual payments or review your automatic payment system. You are essentially scheduling time with your bills, which can turn on-time bill pay into a good habit.
10. Determine your cash flow each month and calculate how you can make the payments in a timely way.
11. If many payments are all due around the same date, see if the companies you owe money to are willing to move the monthly payment date. Often, they are willing to adjust the due date so you can spread out your bills for effective cash flow.
12. Use automatic bill pay options as much as possible to schedule the bills to be paid on or just before the due date. You can also set these to make recurring payments if the payment amount is the same each month.
13. Consolidate as many bills as possible. The fewer bills you have to pay, the more likely you are to get them all paid on time.
14. Identify those bills that can be paid in full rather than as monthly payments. Insurance payments or other monthly expenses are broken down into smaller payments. Look at your available funds and see if you can pay the entire amount. Not only will this help to get bills paid on time, it might also reduce the cost since many companies charge a few when you opt for the multiple payment option over single-pay choice.
15. Keep a record and file system of what has been paid so you are on top of what is still outstanding that month.
16. Download any apps that provide a way to track and pay bills on the go, such as BillMinder or Accounts 2 Checkbook. This is a good option to have when you travel a lot and are not there to organize the mail or follow a regular payment schedule.
17. Establish a budget to follow for all expenses that you can use as a guide for the year. In addition to helping you get bills paid on time, you may also end up saving more money for an emergency fund, savings, vacation or large purchase, or even retirement. Numerous budgeting apps are available to do that, including Spendbook, BillGuard, Level Money, and You Need a Budget.
18. Set up online payment accounts to use for unexpected expenses and bills. While PayPal is one of the most often used online payment systems, there are others, including Google Wallet, Amazon Payments, and ApplePay.
19. Create a plan to pay off certain bills, including car payments and credit cards. Then you won’t have to worry about paying them on time because they will be gone. This will then free up more money to ensure your other recurring bills are paid on time.
Related: How to Improve Your Credit Score
20. Research competitive service providers to determine if certain bills could be reduced each month. With new competitive pressures, it pays to shop around for insurance, cable, and telephone services. Lowering these expenses is another way to free up more money to ensure timely bill payment.
21. Ask for an extension. Although this is not your go-to strategy for handling your bills each month, there are unexpected expenses that may hamper your ability to pay certain bills on time. Many companies will extend you this option once or twice, but they do want to have confirmation that they will receive payment by the new due date. Stick to it and you may be able to use this again in the future if you absolutely need to.
Think about how you can employ any or all of these tips to ensure you pay on time. You’ll reduce your overall expenses and enhance your credit score while developing better money management habits.
What would you add to this list?
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Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.