It’s sad to say that it took me a long time to begin to pay my bills online. It took me even longer to become comfortable with ATM machines in the mid-1990’s, but that’s a story for another day. I used to pay my bills right on the due date or sometimes late. I was constantly getting charged late payment fees, and then I was stationed overseas and was preparing to deploy to Iraq. My deployment woke me up to the fact that I needed a system to pay my bills while I was gone. I didn’t want to just throw all of them on my wife’s lap. So, I signed up with the online bill paying service offered by my bank. It was the best decision I have ever made.
My favorite personal finance book of all time is David Bach’s The Automatic Millionaire. One of the corner stones of his book are that you have to make saving, investing, and bill paying automatic or else you will never get out of the paycheck to paycheck grind.
Here are some tips to make paying bills a little easier:
- Pay your bills online. Nearly every major utility and bank now offers the ability to pay your bills through the internet. Use them! They are not complicated, and they make scheduling payments easy, fast, and pain free.
- If you choose to continue writing checks, separate your mail right away. Do not let it pile up. Separate the junk from the important mail. Pay your bills as soon as they arrive (the same day).
- Keep all of your bills in a single location if you do not pay them right way. My mom used to have an old fashion ledger book where she wedged all her bills into it until it was bill paying day (the one day of the month she sat down to write checks).
- Keep good records. If there is an error in your statement, you need to be able to look back at the old statements. I have a filing cabinet whose sole function is only for credit card, bills, and other statements.
- To keep from getting hit by late payment fees, try and pay your bills on a certain night of the week. Be consistent. I wouldn’t recommend waiting for one specific day every month to pay all your bills like my mother used to do. That must take an amazing amount of discipline to stick with a budget if you only pay all bills on the 1st or 30th. Now credit cards are decreasing their processing times. A bill that is due on the 15th of the month might only get to you by the 1st. The days of 30 day graces are pretty much over.
- Prepaying your bills is also a good idea if you are able to do it. For example, there is a tax advantage for paying mortgage interest for January during December.
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