Monthly bills including phone charges, utilities, energy and even credit cards generally have bill payment due dates clearly stated on the bills. Unless you have arranged automatic withdrawals or other forms of payment schedule for these expenses, your bills should be paid by that due date.
Once you past this due date, you start racking up needless late payment charges, which can add up across several bills, to a staggering amount at month end. While some bills such as utilities or lines of credit may have lower interest rates, many companies charge exorbitant late payment charges.
It’s not unusual to see interest rates in the double figures up to 20% for some credit cards and close to 40% for some finance and loan companies. That’s where they make their money – you’re paying it monthly in way of late payment charges and fees, and when it becomes a habit, you’re unwillingly supporting these companies, with your hard-earned money.
Combined interest charges from several bills can be like another loan payment each month, except that you’ll have nothing to show for it – you’re not paying towards anything. If you’re serious about wanting to save your money and reduce your overall monthly expenses, avoid paying late payment charges and pay your bills by the due dates stated.
To keep on top of bill due dates, have a look at your current method of receiving bills. Bills can easily be overlooked if they get lost or buried in other papers on the desk, table or coffee table, only to resurface long after the due date.
Organize Your Bills to Avoid Costly Late Payment Charges:
- Designate a safe place for all incoming mail and bills (initial point of entry).
- Always initially scan your bills for errors and follow up to get errors corrected.
- Circle and note due dates; clip together bills with similar dates.
- Keep these bills in one place (desk, hall table, bill basket).
- Keep a calendar planner to track important family dates, appointments and bill due dates. There are various styles of planners available or use a calendar with large writing blocks.
- Set a time each week to do paper work: Pay bills, respond to mail, check event schedule and appointments. This may only require an hour a week, yet it can save you a bundle in late charges and missed appointments.
- Mark bills as paid with the reference number or attach receipts, file and store.
- How long you should keep paid bills and receipts depends on tax requirements and recommended record retention guidelines in your area.
- If you will need receipts to support tax deductions, they should be kept for the full required period, in a separate envelope or file and organized for quick retrieval.
- Always keep important documents such as loan, mortgage papers, banking, insurances and such in a safe place where you can access them, should the need arise.
If you dare, track your avoided late payment charges the first month. You’ll be amazed at what you saved, if you haven’t been concerned about late payment charges till now.
Another great idea if your budget allows is to take the money saved by paying bills on time and apply it all to your credit card balance, line of credit or open loans. You’ll reap the benefit of that money, not some company.
You’ll feel wonderful having met your financial obligations on time, plus you’ll be pro-actively paying down debt. And the best of all? There will be no bill collector phone calls to dodge and no dreaded sick feeling, that usually accompanies overdue bills.