It can be hard to stay on top of your bills, especially when they’re coming at you from an increasing number of sources and with varying deadlines. And the consequences of making late bill payments, missing payments, or not paying the right amount can send your credit score into a downward spiral.
Getting your finances into a more fluid system can alleviate stress and mental clutter so you can focus on what’s important: earning money to pay off said bills — and maybe have some fun, too! Give yourself some breathing room around your bill payments by implementing these five techniques.
Tip 1: Change your payment due dates
If your car payment is due on the 13th, but you get paid on the 15th, things may get a bit tight in your checking account mid-month (or worse, you overdraw your account). Combat this by matching your pay schedule with your bill schedule — it’s as easy as calling your credit card company or loan provider and asking for a due date change. With a car payment due on the 16th, for example, you’ll know you always have money in your account.
Tip 2: Consolidate your debt
Graduates from 2016 are plagued with an average of $37,172 in loans to pay off after college. Consolidating numerous student loans into one can help simplify the process — there’s only one payment to make and one deadline to remember. And sometimes consolidation can even reduce the monthly amount you owe.
Sounds great, right? Just make sure to do your research before you consolidate, since it may increase the length of time you are repaying the loan, and potentially increase the total amount of interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan, depending on your interest rate.
Tip 3: Use technology to organize
We live in a world of constant mail, both digital and physical, so it’s easy for bills to get lost in the shuffle. Don’t just toss paper bills in a stack on the kitchen table or let billing emails get buried in your inbox. Get organized and set a digital bill pay strategy.
First, sign up for paperless billing with all your bill collectors. Not only is this environmentally friendly, it’ll streamline things so you’re only getting bills in one place — your email. Next, create a digital folder designated for your bills, and e-file all email bills into this folder. Set a biweekly reminder on your phone or web calendar to go into this file and pay your recent bills.
Tip 4: Utilize your bank’s bill pay services
Between your cable provider, retail accounts, credit cards, and more, it can be overwhelming to remember the logins to each bill collector. Most banks offer a bill pay service that allows you to pay all of your bills from your online bank account, eliminating the need to visit each company’s website in order to submit payment. If your bill is a set amount each month (like a recurring cell phone bill) you can utilize your bank’s automatic payment feature.
Tip 5: Split your bills effectively
If you live with someone, you know splitting bills can stress a roommate relationship. You don’t want to be paying more than your roommate or have one roommate not paying on time. Fortunately, there are now apps and tools like SurePay that make it easy to calculate what you’re owed (or what you owe) and then transfer the money for you. Reach an agreement with your roommate about who pays what, how much, and when — then stick to it.