One thing that matters most when it comes to improving your credit is making sure you pay your bills on time. While MSN Money notes that missed payments usually don’t start affecting your credit until after 30 days, they often have an immediate impact on your wallet, in the form of late fees and higher interest rates. Skip the damage to your credit report and those pesky fees by learning how to pay bills on time. Getting organized is just one way to get in the habit of making timely payments.
Make Your Due Dates Work for You
What if, for example, your student loan bill is due on the 7th of the month, your credit card bill on the 25th, and your utility bills are due on the 15th? Keeping track of a variety of different due dates can make it difficult to remember what bill is due when and to make sure you pay on time. One way to simplify your bills and learn how to pay bills on time is to work with the companies to change the date each bill is due.
Many companies, from federal student loan service providers to cell phone providers, will happily work with you and switch the date your bill is due. That way, you can schedule your due dates around the dates you get paid. For example, if you get paid on the 1st day of the month and the 15th of the month, you can schedule half of your bills to be due the 1st or 2nd and the remaining half to be due the 15th or 16th.
Tackle Bills Right Away
Another way to make sure you don’t forget to pay your bills is to process them the minute you receive them. If you still receive paper bills and pay by check, write out the check for the amount due and put it in the envelope right away. If you receive e-bills or pay electronically, schedule the payment immediately. You can schedule the payment for the future if you don’t have the funds in your account to cover it right away.
Set It and (Don’t) Forget It
If remembering to pay your bills continues to be a challenge, setting up automatic payments removes the issue of having to remember to make the payment every month. Many institutions, from utility companies to mortgage lenders, allow you to set up automatic payments. You might want to create automatic payments for your fixed expenses, such as your mortgage, any subscriptions, and student loan payments, and then pay variable bills manually, to avoid any surprises that can occur if a variable bill is considerably higher than usual one month.
Consider Debt Management
Working with a nonprofit credit counseling agency can not only help you learn to pay your bills on time, but also make the process a lot easier. A debt management plan allows you to make a single lump payment to a credit counselor each month. The counselor then distributes the money to your creditors on time, so that you avoid fees and sky-high interest rates.
If you’re struggling to make timely payments, CESI can help. So far, we’ve helped more than a quarter of a million people take control of their financial lives. We’ll work with you to help you learn how to pay on time and to create a plan that works best for you.
Image source: Flickr
Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit service provider of comprehensive personal financial education and solutions for all life stages and for all of life’s milestones. Our goal is enhanced economic security for everyone we serve.
CESI is NOT A LOAN COMPANY