Personal Finance 

Money Leaks: Forgetting to Pay Your Bills

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We all know that banks and credit card companies make a ton of money off fees and no fee is more avoidable than a late payment fee. Some companies will assess a percentage fee based on your balance, others will charge a flat fee, but one thing is the same across all of those fees – it’s a carelessness penalty.

I understand that not everyone can remember to do everything all the time. Fortunately there are systems in place that can help even the most forgetful, you just have to implement them.

This is another installment of our new series Money Leaks.

How can you avoid forgetting to pay your bills?

  • Automate. Whenever possible automate the bill paying process so you can’t possibly forget. There are risks to financial automation but as long as you mitigate those risks, you can avoid missing bill payments because they’re automatically scheduled ahead of time.
  • Schedule due dates. Whenever possible, try to schedule the due dates so they coincide with each other and, preferably, after your pay day. You can call up your credit card company and request that your due date be changed so it matches up with your rent, utility, and other credit card bills. Some companies will let you, others won’t.
  • Use fewer resources/cards. If you use three credit cards, that’s three bills you have to remember paying. All it takes is one $35+ late payment fee for you to regret having so many cards, even if you were using them to optimize your cash back. A simple system is easier to execute.
  • Schedule frequent reminders. Once you have fewer due dates to remember, schedule reminders to yourself to take care of them. Put it as a recurring event on your phone, schedule a meeting in Outlook, and tell your spouse or significant other to remind you. A Post-It note on your computer isn’t going to work because you’ll eventually be blind to it, frequent and annoying reminders will.

In the event that you do miss payment on a bill, try calling up the company to see if you can get the fee rescinded. This works best if you aren’t a frequent late payer and haven’t been dinged in the past for something similar. Companies aren’t cold hearted, they’re will to work with you as long as you are willing to be nice.

What do you do to make sure you don’t miss a payment?

{ 11 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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11 Responses to “Money Leaks: Forgetting to Pay Your Bills”

  1. Shirley says:

    I use a program with a very small footprint called MiniMinder.

    It is extremely user friendly, interface configurable, and pops up on your screen only when you have set it to do so. Its manual is very easy to follow. I have used it for years on all of our computers (98, 2000, XP, W7) and it has never had a problem or interferred with any other program.

  2. cubiclegeoff says:

    I like the idea of getting your bills scheduled to be around the same date, but it’s not easy. Easy maybe with a credit card, but much harder with utilities.

    • mannymacho says:

      I’ve tried getting my bills scheduled to be close to each other, and it’s incredibly difficult. Some of them even would chnage for a few cycles and then change to a different day…I felt too much like I was just playing whack-a-mole, so I gave up.

  3. Adam says:

    Auto bill pay for things like electric bills, etc. is great, but it’s easier to lose perspective about how much you consume. You do provide some great tips in this post. Thanks.

  4. Martha says:

    I use autopay, and what I like about it is that it tells me that I have a payment coming up and how much it will be. That way I don’t lose track of how much I’m spending!

  5. No Debt MBA says:

    Reminder emails are really useful for me.

  6. I use my Google Calendar to set up reminders to pay the bills. It never fails!

  7. Brian says:

    Most of our major bills our due around the 28th of each month, so it makes it really hard for me to forget.

    Water, gas and electric payment drop boxes are all located right near each other and on my way to work, so I just drop them off then (I would use the online bill pay for my bank, but I can’t get it to recognize my gas company correctly so I just write checks for all three).

    If they were more spread out I would probably use Google Calendar

  8. Sheila says:

    I thought I’d paid a credit card bill, but turns out I didn’t until the day after the due date. The company rescinded the late fee without problem and would have rescinded the interest, but I decided I needed to pay it (haven’t paid interest in years!) because I didn’t do what I was supposed to do. While that’s probably not the frugal thing to do, for me it was an issue of personal ethics.

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