Personal Finance 101

    Paying bills on a timely basis

    Schedule My PC can help you manage your bills, credit, company Accounts Payable tasks and QuickBooks or other accounting applications.

    Paying bills on a timely basis
    Paying bills on a timely basis

    Never forget to pay your bills on time and avoid late payments by having Schedule My PC open your bill payment applications and websites prior to their due dates so you can manage your payments like a pro.

    Get organized and open up credit card, utility websites and other payable bills each payday or prior to their due date weekly or monthly.  Simply schedule your bills on a recurring schedule to match your cash flow receipt dates and your workstation will open up each site per your requirements.

    Paying your bills on time is an important aspect of taking control of your financial life. Knowing when your bills are due and making a habit of paying them on time can reduce your stress, save you money, boost your credit score and enable you to get lower-interest credit in the future.

    But how do you start making on-time bill paying a habit? It’s easier than you may think.

    Ways to Prevent Late Payments
    We’ve come up with a list of 10 top tips to help you stop paying your bills late. Let’s take a look:

    1. Sign up for auto-pay. Most of your regularly recurring bills (ex. utility bills, mortgage, car loan, etc.) provide you with the option of having the amount you owe automatically deducted from a designated bank account. Make it easy – make it automatic.
    2. Use financial software with automatic bill-paying reminders. Most accounting packages like QuickBooks have features that can prompt you days or weeks in advance of your bill due dates.
    3. Consolidate bills. Say you get your internet access, phone service and cable TV from the same provider. Instead of paying three separate monthly bills, why not check to see if you can consolidate your billing to pay for all of the services you receive in one monthly statement? You’ll be less likely to miss a due date that way.
    4. Schedule bill-paying time. Carve out time on your calendar to pay bills on a regular basis in the same way that you schedule time for the gym or for work meetings. By setting aside a regular time to pay your bills, you’ll create a habit that will make it much less likely for you to miss a due date.
    5. Create a bill-paying location. Stuffing a bill into your purse or briefcase, or throwing it on the kitchen counter when you come in from work, is a good way to forget (and miss) the payment due date. Think about a convenient place where you can keep and pay your bills. Stock it with all of the items you need to pay your bills, including a computer and internet access (if you pay bills online and/or use financial software), your checkbook, stamps, pens, envelopes and a filing system to keep track of your paid statements. Then when it’s time to pay your bills you’ll have a comfortable, convenient place to do so.
    6. Organize bills. Your bills should be arranged according to due date and note due dates on your calendar. Create a habit of noting the due date for a bill as soon as you open it (circling or highlighting it) and then putting the due date on your calendar. You may want a desk filing system where you can store bills according to due dates so you have an immediate visual reminder of which bills need to be paid next.
    7. Give your payment time to arrive. Check your statement or contact your creditors to find out how many days in advance they recommend sending in payment. It’s important to know how long it will take for your creditor to actually receive and process payment, especially if you are sending in payment around a holiday or weekend. You want to meet or beat the deadline, not get the check in a day or two late.
    8. Learn your bill cycle. Review several months’ worth of paid bill statements and list bills in the order that they are typically due. Most likely you’ll notice that your bill due dates fall into two groups – ones due earlier in the month (e.g., the 5th) and ones due later in the month (ex. the 20th). As soon as you receive your paycheck, pay the bills that are due prior to your next paycheck. If you don’t have enough money in your account to regularly pay all of the bills due before your next paycheck, contact your creditors to change a couple of your payment due dates.
    9. Sign up to receive bills or bill reminders by email. Use email to your advantage. Check to see if your creditors provide online bill payment reminder features, or go “paperless” and have your bills sent to you electronically via email. When you receive the bill or reminder, use it as a prompt to log into your bank account and pay the bill, ensuring that you don’t miss the due date.
    10. Pay by phone. Many creditors allow account holders to pay their bills by phone, for free or a small fee. If you regularly pay bills late, consider paying by phone instead – more than likely the fee charged for phone payment service will be less than the potential late fee.

    Bonus Tip

    • Prepay bills. If you have a really hard time making your payments on time, you might want to consider prepaying your bills to avoid those punishing late fees. Many creditors will allow you to pay your bills in advance, effectively creating a “credit”. If you have irregular income, or if you find that you have some surplus cash, consider prepaying one or more of your recurring bills and you won’t have to worry about payment due dates for a few months. Just keep an eye on your monthly statements to know when you need to begin paying again.
    Credit Report Management
    Credit Report Management

    If you are concerned about your credit and would like to manage it more closely, open up your credit reporting sites each week or as often as you would like to make sure your reports are accurate.

    Manage Your Credit

    Here are some tips for managing your credit:

    • Keep track of your spending: Keep track of the checks you’ve written, debit and credit card transactions, and ATM card usage. Review your monthly statements when they arrive, and report any possible discrepancies immediately.
    • Don’t exceed your credit limit on lines of credit and credit cards: Your available credit is how much credit you have left on a line of credit or credit card; it is your credit limit minus your outstanding balance. Be careful to keep your spending below this amount. Following the “20/10 Rule,” it is a good practice not to let your credit card debt exceed more than 20% of your total yearly income after taxes. And each month, don’t have more than 10% of your monthly take-home pay in credit card payments.
    • Have an emergency fund: Keep at least a 15% cushion of available credit in case of emergency. Or better yet, keep an emergency savings fund of three to six months’ living expenses in a liquid, interest-earning account. That way, if you lose your job or have a big unexpected expense, you don’t have to borrow more than you’re comfortable repaying.
    • Pay what you owe: Always pay at least your minimum monthly payment on time every month. By paying more than the minimum – or better yet the full balance each month, you will reduce your finance charges. Be sure not to skip any payments.

    Make timely payments

    Timely payment is one of the best ways to establish yourself as a good credit risk to future lenders.

    • Be organized. Put all your bills in one place so you don’t lose them or forget about them. Keep a list of the bills you have due, and if it will make it easier for you to remember to pay them, make them due on the same day each month. (Contact your lender to see if you can change your payment due date.)
    • Pay attention to the payment due dates. Mail your payment — or schedule an online payment through Bill Pay — at least a week before the due date.
    • Sign up for automatic payments. Using automatic loan payments from your checking account is a simple, convenient way to regularly make your payments. Be sure to schedule them according to your pay schedule to ensure you have sufficient funds for the payment when it is drafted.
    • Keep your contact information current. If you’re moving, remember to fill out the change of address form on your statement or update it online to ensure that your statement goes to your new address.

    Stay in touch with your creditors

    Contact your lenders immediately if you fall behind on your payments. Most creditors are willing to set up alternative payment options, especially if you inform them right away of your situation.

     

     

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    I have over 30 years of Project Management and technology experience. In addition, I have had extensive hands-on experience with the latest technology, e.g., VMware, Windows Active Directory, Network Management and Monitoring tools, MS Project and numerous server platforms, network hardware, etc. [ View all posts ]