It’s all about the system you have in place. See how you can pay your bills on time and save money on late fees.
Paying your bills on time is an essential aspect of taking control of your financial life. It’s important to know when your bills are due and make it a practice to pay them before the deadline to protect your credit score, save money, and reduce financial stress.
When Is the Best Time to Pay Your Bills?
The due date on your bills is not the only possibility. You can pay your bills much earlier, and there are benefits to carefully planning when to pay specific bills:
Credit card bill
When you receive a bill from your credit card company, you have less than a month to pay back what is owed before incurring interest. The due date for your credit card bill indicates that the billing cycle has closed, and you need to pay up. When you pay off your bill a few days after the issuer has reported your balance, your credit score will be negatively affected, despite having excellent payment practices.
A good rule of thumb is to pay your credit card bill when your credit utilization ratio starts nearing 30%, irrespective of when your bill is due. If you need to use more credit, you should make the payments you can make as early as possible to avoid incurring interest.
Water, gas, and electricity are essential utilities that require timely payment. If your utility bills are long overdue, a utility company can send your account to a collection agency that can forward this information to credit bureaus. You should pay your utility bills when they are due. Often that means actually making the payment a few days earlier, especially if you pay by cheque or are using your bank's online bill payment system. This way you can be sure your payment arrives on time.
Most mortgage contracts offer homeowners a grace period for late payment after the monthly due date. During this grace period which is usually about 15 days, your payment isn’t considered late, and the lender will not report your delayed payment to the credit bureau until it’s 30 days past the due date.
It’s advisable to consult with your lender before making any prepayments since you may incur a penalty. Pay your mortgage when it’s due and if you are late, ensure it doesn't extend past the 15-days grace period.
Like your mortgage, most lenders allow car owners a grace period of about 10 to 15 days. During this period, you don’t face any consequences. After 30 days, the lender will report the delinquent payment to a credit bureau.
Before making prepayments, consult your lender to avoid penalties. It is advisable to pay your auto loan when it’s due with an allowance of about 10-15 days. Note: Continued late payments will affect your relationship with your lender and can inhibit your ability to refinance.
How to Pay Your Bills on Time
Make a list
Make a list of all your bills starting from rent, utilities, credit cards, and mortgage payments. Do not forget to include any loan payments you have. You can use a spreadsheet, app, or notebook to ensure all your bills are in one place and to organize your finances. This makes it easy to track them and avoid any payments.
Create a bill-paying space
Designate a spot in your home where you can keep and pay your bills. This space helps you keep track of the due bills and those already paid. Stock this place with everything you need for the process, including a computer, checkbook, and envelopes.
Check your statements
Always open your bills even if you are behind on payment. Ensure the figure is correct and keep track of any fee increase. Checking your statements helps keep your expenses under control so that you can easily decide when to cut out some.
Review your due dates
Learn your billing cycle. Your dates are likely to either be earlier in the month or way later. Mark these dates on your calendar, and if they are too scattered, you can work with your bill collectors to change the due dates so that they can coordinate with your paycheck. Consider how long it may take the creditor to receive and process your payment, especially during the holiday season.
Ask about your grace period and prepayments
Often, you have a short period between when your bill is due and when you are charged late fees. Most grace periods range between 10 and 15 days. This allows you some flexibility. It’s also important to confirm with your creditors how many days in advance you can send in payments.
Set a bill-paying date
Carefully choose a date and time when you can sit down and pay your bills. This could be twice every month or once a month, depending on your bills. Ensure you are either paying your bills on time or ahead of time.
Streamline the payment process
To reduce the time pressure and stress of paying bills, you can choose to make automatic bill payments and consolidate bills. If you have the same provider for phone service, internet access, and cable TV, opt to consolidate these bills to be paid in one monthly statement instead of three separate ones. You could also have the biller deduct the amount from your account.
Keep paying attention
Even though paying your bills is automated, it doesn’t mean you should forget about them. Monitor the transactions to ensure there are no errors, and you have enough funds in your account.
Do More With Your Money
With so many bills to handle, you need to build good habits to make it easier to manage your financial goals. And it’s easy to do with an app like Monorail where you can set your shopping budget, your savings goals, and long-term goals.
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