These tips can help make 2023 the year you kick that late payment habit to the curb.
If you put off paying certain bills each month because you dread the experience, don’t be too hard on yourself. Lots of people procrastinate when it comes to forking over money for credit card, loan and utility payments. However, it’s important to pay your bills on time, since paying late can hurt your credit.
Whatever your reasons for bill-paying procrastination, the practice doesn’t have to become a lifelong habit. You can take steps right now to make paying bills a little more appealing so you don’t pay late or forget payments.
1. Create a budget
Payment procrastination may stem from not having a clear picture of how much you owe each month and how to allocate portions of your income for each expense. If you create a budget, you’ll have a plan for where your money goes each month. You’ll also be able to stay on top of paying bills on time.
Try downloading a budgeting app such as Mint or You Need a Budget (YNAB) to your computer or phone to create a budget, track spending and receive budgeting tips and recommendations.
Find out: How to Create and Stick to a Budget
2. Keep track of monthly due dates
Having a bunch of credit card and loan due dates every month can be overwhelming, making it easy to put off paying monthly bills or forgetting to pay them at all. Make a list of all your monthly due dates so you can keep track of when each one is due. Then post the due dates in a prominent place so you won’t forget.
If you download a budgeting app, you can also sign up for bill payment reminders. You can probably sign up directly with each creditor/provider for email reminders on credit cards, loans and other bills, too.
Find out: 7 Smart Ways to Get Your Finances in Order
3. Enroll in autopay
One sure way to avoid procrastinating on paying bills is to enroll in autopay for monthly expenses like utilities. You may also be able to sign up for autopay on student loans, gym memberships, cable and internet services, cell phone and other recurring monthly bills. You may be able to set up autopay with your credit cards, too.
Usually, you can set up a monthly payment for at least the minimum payment due, which means you’ll avoid late fees. Or you may be able to enroll in autopay for the full statement balance each month or a set amount. If it’s late payment fees you’re trying to avoid, you can always enroll for the minimum payment and then make a larger payment in the same month to knock down the balance and pay less interest.
However, autopay on credit cards can get tricky if you’re not careful. You still need to look at your monthly statements to monitor account activity and watch for any fraudulent transactions. Also, if you sign up to autopay the statement balance each month, some months may be more than you counted on if you used your card more than usual.
Find out: 5 Pros and Cons of Automated Bill Payment
4. Reduce the number of monthly bills
It’s easy to miss a due date when you’re paying monthly bills on multiple credit cards. But if you consolidate the balances onto a balance transfer credit card with an introductory 0 percent APR, you’ll only have one monthly credit card due date to remember.
Depending on the balance for each card, a balance transfer may or may not be a good idea. That’s because you’ll usually pay a transfer fee ranging from 3 percent to 5 percent of the balance transfer. To find out if a balance transfer is too costly, weigh the amount you would pay in interest on your credit card balances against the fees you would have to pay.
Another way to reduce the number of monthly bills is to focus on paying off one credit card with larger payments. When the balance is paid, take that same amount and apply it to the next credit card balance. Eventually, you’ll have a more manageable amount of debt, along with fewer payments to remember.
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Published by Debt.com, LLC