Being a good money manager means paying bills on time. Whether you owe the utility company, the bank, the government or your best friend, it’s a crucial life skill to make timely payments, every time. So how do you manage it all? Can it be done? What’s the best way to ensure you pay bills on time?
Enter loans and credit agreements carefully: Debt can be used properly, but it’s often misused. Responsible consumers use loans and lines of credit to start small businesses, get reliable transportation to and from a good job, and to pay for a home that will gain value over time, among other things. “Good debt” is often categorized as debt which is likely to increase in value or pay you financial returns later. Paying your credit card or bank loans on time is possible if you’ve only entered into loans with monthly payments that can be paid comfortably each month and that aren’t extending you beyond what you can manage.
Increase your income. Another way to be sure to pay bills on time is to boost your earning potential. This tip falls under the “prevention” category because if you’re late on payments, then it’s probably too late to use this strategy. Increasing your income could mean acquiring a trade certification, college degree, or promotion. It could also involve taking on a second job or earning some income through a side gig. There are a lot of ways to bring in some extra cash -- It may take time and effort, but can be well worth it.
Once you are earning all you can and confident in your ability to comfortably make each payment, it’s time to tool up in order to avoid missing payments accidentally. Tools are especially valuable to keep you on track -- and there are many to take advantage of!
Sign up for email alerts and texts: Most banking institutions have ways to alert you before a problem arises. “Balance low”, “deadline approaching,” “statement closed,” are all preferable phrases to the ones you’ll see on an overdraft mailer or missed payment notice. It’s impossible to stress the importance of reminders, so take this a step further, and double up. Set your own monthly calendar reminders in your work and at-home email programs in addition to the reminders that come from your creditors or bank.
Automate: Auto bill pay can be a lifesaver for those who lead busy lives. It’s available for many checking and credit accounts, so ask to enroll in your bank’s auto-pay program. Auto-payments are simply one account paying for another. For example, you can have your checking account automatically pay the balance on your credit card every month after the statement closes. That way, you’re never late. This tool will only work if your budget is organized enough to always have the money in your account for payments before the automated draft -- so be sure you have a solid budget plan in place before going with the set it and forget it method!
Go digital: Get all of your information in one place. The vast majority of banks and many creditors have mobile apps or mobile friendly websites that make it easy to access your information on the go. Scheduling payments, viewing balances and more can be accomplished digitally, and the tools can be used to make sure you pay your bills on time, every time.
There’s nothing worse than realizing you are going to miss a payment, or worse – that you already have. If you’re having a hard time keeping your head above water and paying your bills on time, consider making a call to CESI -- a nonprofit debt counselor, to see what options are available to you. Remember, being late on bill payments isn’t your only option. With a little prevention, technological tips,and some outside help, you can get on track and stay on track.
Consumer Education Services, Inc. empowers people to overcome their financial challenges and lead financially-healthy lives.
CESI is NOT A LOAN COMPANY