Young adults who are just starting out in their money lives often find it difficult to pay their bills on time. Since paying a bill late will lower your credit rating, developing a method to make sure you never forget to pay a bill again is extremely important.
According to Equifax, one of the big three in the credit bureau industry, about 35% of your credit score is based on payment history.
So here are 5 painless ways to ensure you always pay your bills on time:
1. Create a dedicated space for bills
It’s very easy to misplace a paper bill if you don’t have a dedicated spot for the mail. A paper bill could be accidentally thrown away with the junk mail. Use a basket or plastic shoe box to corral your bills until you are ready to pay them.
Likewise, e-statements can be accidentally deleted or forgotten. Create a new folder in your email labeled “Bills” and move email statements into that folder as soon as you receive them. That way they are all in one place and easy to find.
With these simple organization efforts, you will save time for looking for misplaced bills.
2. Set aside one hour per week to pay bills on time
Although no one likes paying bills, managing a few bills at a time is easy and less of a chore. Set aside a specific day and time for this task. If possible, pick a time when you are least likely to be interrupted. In time, you will develop a habit that will pay off in keeping your money matters on track.
3. Make a list of all your bills and their due dates
One way to make sure you don’t forget to pay a bill is to make a list of all your bills and due dates. Put this information on a monthly calendar. Check off each bill when you pay it. If you’re a spreadsheet geek like I am, turn this list into a spreadsheet and post it in the area where you pay your bills. Check off each bill when you pay it. It’s a good idea to make a note of the date the bill was paid.
4. Pay early to make sure your bills are paid on time
Always pay your bills early to avoid late fees and a ding to your credit score. If you pay by mail, be sure to mail your payment at least 7 days before the due date to ensure it arrives on time. If you pay electronically on the biller’s website, you have until 5pm on the due date to pay. But remember that internet outages do occur. You don’t want to get stuck with a late payment because your internet went down.
5. Use online banking to pay bills on time
A great way to make sure your bills are paid on time is to set up online bill pay with your bank. Depending on the bank, you may even be able to bank via an app on your smartphone. That’s very convenient!
Many banks allow you to have the statement received electronically by the bank. You can set up rules for paying the bill once it is received, such as when the bill arrives, x number of days before the due date, on the due date, etc. If your bank offers this feature, you will be able to automate many of your bills. That way your bills are paid on time without additional effort on your part. You may even be able to set email alerts when a bill is received or paid.
A word of caution though. If you are going to automate your payments, you need to be diligent in watching your bank account balance to make sure you have enough money in your account to cover the bill when it is scheduled to be paid.
By the way, if you’d like to learn more about everyday money matters, consider the Hire Your Money® course. It is a cutting edge, cloud-based interactive course that empowers young people to take command of their money lives. You will be able to access the course on your favorite internet-enabled device. No reading required. Included are presentations about must-know money topics, videos, and downloadable money tools.