Financial freedom: what to know about paying your own bills
Heading to college is an exciting time, but it’s also an important time for your finances.
You’re heading to college and about to take the first steps into your own, independent life. It’s an exciting time — but also an important time, especially when it comes to your finances. Here’s help with how to get started with managing your own bills, and gain more financial freedom when it comes to your bank account.
Organize your bills
It sounds simple, but the first step to successfully handling your own bill payments is knowing the complete list of all bills you’re responsible for paying. Staying organized allows you to know how much money you need to spend each month — and when. Make a list of your bills and also include:
- The monthly payment amount (if it varies, estimate an average amount so you know what you need to budget for and have available)
- The payment due date
- Contact information for the service provider so you can easily reach out if there’s a question or problem
Decide how to pay
Next, decide how you’ll pay each bill. You can use mail, but that takes more time (and money because you’ll need to buy stamps). It also means running the risk of forgetting to send your payment. You may also have the option to pay your bills over the phone.
A smart way to pay your bills? Online. Wells Fargo Online Bill Pay makes it easy to pay your bills right from your account, especially if you use recurring payments. Doing so means you don’t need to worry about forgetting to pay your bill.
Should you pay early?
All your bills have due dates. It’s important you pay these in full and on time for several reasons. Late payments could impact your credit score, and they’ll usually lead to additional charges, like late fees.
Paying by the due date will put you in the clear — but in some cases, you may want to pay in advance. Depending on the service provider or company, paying in advance could give you a discount or other perk. It never hurts to ask if you can get a benefit for being proactive with your payments.
Other tips to help set you up for success
Getting organized and automating your payments may help you successfully manage your bills. But you also need to take the time each month to review your statements and make sure there are no mistakes or errors, which could result in paying more than you should.
If you find a mistake — for example, if you were charged twice for one purchase — check to see if the issuer of the bill has an online process for billing errors and fill out the appropriate form and attach any documentation. If there is no online form, call and then send the documentation via email or mail to create a record of the error. Don’t forget to also contact your bank as soon as possible to notify them of any mistakes or errors that you spot in your bank statements.
Mistakes do happen, and most companies want to help you fix the problem, so stay calm and polite when speaking to customer service representatives. Simply being level-headed can help you reach the outcome you want.