You receive your latest credit card statement and again a late fee of $35 has been tacked on. You panic realizing that you’ve again missed the due date! Why, oh why, can’t you just pay them on time? Not only are the late charges making your balance constant, they are also charging you interest on the total balance due; meaning you’re paying interest on your late fees. What a waste of money!
Juggling bills is much more difficult if you aren’t organized. If mail is dumped on a counter top or desk and only sorted through once a month, the possibility of missing a payment is pretty high. Many times, those who are unorganized begin to make a habit of this behavior. Sorting through the mail becomes an agonizing task, often resulting in cold sweats and panic attacks. Analyze your problem and label it:
- You’re unorganized. You don’t have one place you place your important bills and paperwork. Instead, you throw it in a pile somewhere to look at later. But later comes too late.
- There’s no routine in your daily life, let alone your bill paying one. If you constantly feel like a chicken with its head cut off, something needs to change. Often that change boils down to routine.
- You frequently don’t have the money available to pay your bills on time. Since you’re not quite sure how much money you have in your account from one moment to the next, when the bills are due, there’s not enough money to cover them.
Instead of harping on the problem, label it and find a solution. Working from your strengths, figure out what will work best for you. Most people do well with finding ways to organize their bills and their time. Set a routine and stick to it. Go through your bills and find when most of them are due. For instance, many bills are due around the 1st and the 15th of every month. Here are a few more tips to solving specific problems:
- Get organized. Set aside a basket for bills. Open them right away and circle or highlight the amount due and the due date.
- Stick to a routine. Once you’ve figured out when most of your bills are due, schedule to pay them two days a month. Set aside half an hour to an hour when it’s quiet around the house and you can focus on writing checks, paying them online, or setting up auto-debit and recording the payments in your checkbook register (it’s best to do this with an online program in my opinion.)
- Set a budget. This might be your first step; figure out your expenses and income. Set aside some money for upcoming bills and savings. This way you won’t end up short when the due date arrives.
Late payments can be remedied by staying on top of your finances. The more organized you are with your payments, the more relieved you will feel when the bills arrive.
Do you automate your finances? Are you organized?