Are you like many who are worried about how they will pay bills during these uncertain times?
Let's talk about it. Those pesky little pieces of real or virtual mail that remind us of the joys of adulthood will not pay themselves.
Whether we like it or not, paying bills is very much a fact of our adult lives. We may have learned how to calculate interest in high school, but did anyone really teach us how to pay bills?
If you are struggling to manage your monthly debts, you can't run and hide from it. You need to tackle it head-on. Here are some tips to help you pay bills on time. Who knows?
School may not have taught you all about paying your bills, but that doesn't mean you can't learn it yourself.
Researching how late payments work and knowing what affects not paying bills on time has on your credit score will help you understand the importance of bill payments.
For instance, did you know that late fees can cost you an extra $25-35 per bill or that 35% of people have paid a bill after its due date?
Increase your financial IQ by reading or listening to the topic. There are several websites, books, and podcasts that can help boost your overall knowledge.
Monitor Your Expenses
Before you can accomplish the next step, keep a notepad handy, or use your smartphone to track money spent.
Simply keep track of your spending. No matter how small. Write down expenses. Write down the $1.38 you spent on coffee this morning. EVERYTHING.
Before you can adequately balance a budget, knowing what you spend and where you could cut back on is imperative. Often we fall into spending habits that become so routine that we don't realize they can add up to significant expenses at the end of the month.
Keeping track of every cent will show you if you go to the movies more times than a critic, or if your shoe addiction is getting too intense. Remember to pay attention to bank fees!
Start a Budget
Budgeting might be the most challenging part of keeping track of bills. Once you've tracked your spending and cut down where you need to, it's time to create a budget and stick to it.
A successful budget balances out your income with expenses. Examples of income are your full-time salary after deductions, or side job hours. Expenses are everything from transit to food, clothing to loan payments, and everything in between.
If you have extra income, you're ahead of the game, now get to saving! If you spend more on expenses, you are incurring debt. This is not good. The goal is always to spend less then you make. Take additional steps to cut back on expenses.
Google sheets are a great platform to create and keep track of your budget. A Google sheet is easily accessed from anywhere.
Use your budget to keep track of when bills are due and how much you will need to set aside for them. You can also set aside emergency funds by saving a tiny bit each month.
It might be wise to create several versions of a budget too. What if your income suddenly decreased? How would you handle it? Having different scenarios all laid out before the decrease will prevent you from going into panic mode, and experience stress and anxiety about your money.
If you lack the time or as addicted to your smartphones as most people are, consider downloading a financial management app. These tech-savvy programs can manage your budget for you, as well as alert you to your spending habits, and even sync with your loans.
Financial management apps are relatively user-friendly and great for anyone looking to get a handle on their money. Most apps can be tied to your bank accounts and help organize your income and expenses automatically.
This will remove the burden of having to enter the data manually, and help keep you motivated to track spending, budget, and pay bills.
Whether you choose to utilize the alerts built right into your smartphone calendar, or you prefer to use a sharpie and a wall hanging flip calendar, setting reminders is the ideal way to remember to pay.
Give yourself a couple of days for the payment to show up to the provider, and you will also avoid late fees and possible interest rate hikes!
You can build payment dates into your budget or add them to your money tracking app. Adding your payday date, too, will give you a clear idea when you need to pay bills.
Consolidation tactics can be used in two ways. To save a little on some services, you can research bundles, consolidating necessities like phone, Internet, and cable into one bill.
If you're a renter, you can speak to your landlord about the possibility of paying an all-inclusive rate as opposed to rent plus utilities. Combining services doesn't always save a ton, but every cent counts!
Another type of consolidation to consider is debt consolidation. If your expenses are eating you up, it may be time to contact a debt professionally and combine your loans/lines of credit into one bill.
A debt management program (DMP) are programs that assist you with paying off your debt. Many financial institutions, like your current bank, offer these services free to members.
Repairing your debt situation now could be worth the lower credit score you might be left with for a year or two. The key is not to add any new debt while paying off the old debt. Think of it as a short term sacrifice for the better long term goal.
Final Thought on How to Pay Bills
There is no easy, sunshiney way to put it — being an adult is hard! Getting a secure handle on how to pay bills and overall money management is a great way to set yourself up for future success.
- Increase your financial knowledge.
- Understand the “Pay Bills” process, including late fees, interest, etc.
- Build a money plan in the form of a budget
- Use technology like apps or Google to your advantage.
- Get help if needed.
Use these tips to improve your financial situation and reduce stress and anxiety when it comes to your money.
Brian is a dad, husband, and an IT professional by trade. A Personal Finance Blogger since 2013 who, with his family, has successfully paid off over $100K worth of consumer debt. Now that Brian is debt-free, his mission is to help his three children prepare for their financial lives and educate others to achieved financial success. He blogs at Debt Discipline.