Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
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4 Tips for Paying Your Bills

Growing up, you never really think about bills. You may hear your parents complain about them or warn you that you'll one day have to deal with bills, but other than that, it's like bills were just something adults had to deal with. Then one day, you were the adult getting letters in the mail from companies who expected you to send money by a certain date. They may have trickled in, one bills each month time at first, but it probably wasn’t long before your mailbox was overrun with bills every week.

Face it: bills are a part of life. You need a place to live and electricity and running water in that place. Air conditioning, while not a requirement, is nice. Heat in the winter is essential. All these niceties and necessities cost. While you may dread bill paying, it’s something you have to do. You might as well figure out how to make it easy on yourself.

Pay your bills before they’re due, especially if you’re mailing a check and especially for credit card bills which have hefty late payment penalties. By mailing early, you’ll save money on late fees. You also eliminate the stress that comes along with paying bills at the last minute. Write your payment due dates on a calendar to keep up with when your bills are to be paid. It’s much easier than trying to remember all the dates or worse, referring back to each billing statement to figure out when your payment is due.

Make sure there’s enough money in your account, otherwise your checks will bounce and you’ll have double problems: fees from your bank and from the companies you owed. Before you start writing checks or entering your bank information for online bill pay, check your account balance to confirm you have sufficient funds for the payments you’re about to make. It’s risky to send off payments when your balance can’t cover it, even if you’re supposed to get paid before the payments clear.

Organize your bills around your paydays. If you get paid two or more times per month, you’ll probably be paying bills from each check. Try to organize your due dates so that you’re not paying all the bills from a single paycheck. It may sound fun to have a “bill” check and a “play” check, but you’ll always feel broke after the check that pays the bills. Ask a few of your billers to change your due dates so your bills are more even between your paychecks.

Be sure you’re making enough money for all the bills you pay. Add up all the bills you have each month, then subtract that from the amount of money you bring in each month. If the two are equal, you have a problem. If your bills are more than your income, you have an even bigger problem. Ideally, your monthly bills are less than your monthly income. In fact, you should have enough left over to take care of other necessities like groceries and gas.

Paying bills may not be one of the more fun things you do in life, but dealing with the consequences of not paying bills (e.g. your electricity gets disconnected) is far less fun. If they’re too high, look for ways to cut back, but other than that, just do it.
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Monday, 14 June 2021

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