The Procrastinator’s Guide to Bill Consolidation and Payment

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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.

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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.

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Related: 8 Clever Ways to Save BIG on the Monthly Bills for Your Vacation Rental

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.

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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?

Let me know with a comment!

About Author

Larry Alton

Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer and researcher who contributes to online media outlets and news sources. A graduate of Des Moines University, he still lives in Iowa as a full-time freelance writer and avid news hound. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he’s also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing.

2 Comments

  1. Drew Cifrodelli

    Hi Larry,
    I’ve been using a system called http://www.paytrust.com for 15 years. The system is owned by Intuit. This is the best solution I’ve ever found for paying bills, because it can handle all of your bills. Some bill payment solutions are limited to the types of bills that they can pay, not paytrust. All my bills go through paytrust.com they send me an email with the due date, minimum payment and payment in full amounts with the link that I click on to view the bill and schedule the payment.

    At the end of the year I export my transactions, so I can load them into Inuit TurboTax, which saves me so much time and money. There are many reports you can run too. It’s all browser based. The images are downloadable as adobe pdf files.

    Set the payment and forget it. The check is in the mail!
    Cost is reasonable too, roughly twice the cost of a postage stamp for each bill you pay and they pay the postage, so the incremental cost is about 25 cents per payment on average.
    Drew

  2. William G.

    Larry
    thanks for at least two strategies above I have not thought about. I have always had a loose strategy for payment until I became aware of the following strategy.
    I analyzed all my credit cards, by dividing the balance by the minimum payment. then placing these into a hierarchy of payment by the number of payment required to pay off the balance, least to the most. Than tally the total monthly payment expense plus $150 dollars. This sets a fixed monthly allotment to be spent to credit payment.
    To start, the first payment receives the minimum payment + $150, while all other cards received the minimum payment. When the first card is paid off, I transfer the entire dollar amount paid to the first card to the second card to establish a new payment amount (that paid to the first card plus its minimum required payment). I repeat this process with each card, each time moving the previous payments to the next plus minimum payment, progressively increasing payment to the next card as the previous card is paid off. Eventually the entire allotted monthly card payments are going to the last and final card. Once complete-I can take the monthly allotment and apply It take to the mortgage payment to pay that off then faster.
    Note: it will take a while to get momentum, but you will see an expediential acceleration of paid off balances.

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