One of the biggest financial challenges we face is staying on top of our bills. Whether you were just too busy to pay them or you don’t have enough money in your bank account, falling behind in your bills will cost you in fees and interest. If you continue to fall behind, late bills can soon become a mountain of debt!
If this sounds like the situation that you are in – don’t panic. You can take control of your finances. Follow these five tips below to help you stay on top of your bills and out of debt.
A budget helps you to organize your finances. It’s an easy way to plan for your financial security. To start, write down what expenses you pay every month and compare this total against the amount of money you bring home. If you are spending more than what you make, that could be the reason you are falling behind in your bills.
By using your budget, you can identify expenses that you can cut back, or even eliminate. Perhaps you have some services on your cable bill that you just don’t use or you are eating out at restaurants three days a week. Scale back what you spend each month so that your income covers your expenses. If you are still finding yourself in a tough financial spot, consider picking up a part-time job or freelance work to help make ends meet.
Most of us get paid on certain days of the month. But if your bills are due right before you get paid, you can easily find yourself without enough cash to pay them.
So what can you do? Request a different due date – preferably right after you get your check. Vendors just want to get paid and, if it’s a few days that’s causing the problem – they may be willing to change your due date. While this approach may not work for every bill, even if you can time a few to hit closer to when you are paid – it can knock down the number of late fees and interest that you may be paying.
Whether you set this up directly with your bank or with the vendor, automating your bill payments will force you to pay your bills on time. If you have a busy schedule and are prone to forget things, especially household chores, automation is for you.
The best way to do this is to time the payments to be made within a day of receiving your paycheck. This will help to ensure that you have enough money to cover your bills. And, it can help you to better manage the remaining money that you have in your bank account.
A word to the wise – be sure to check your bank account on a regular basis to make sure you have enough money.
If you have bills that you can’t automate the payment for, try to pay the bill immediately. When a bill is out of sight – it’s out of mind. There’s a chance you may forget and pay it late. If your funds prevent you from paying these immediately, then set up a reminder on the calendar in your phone or on your computer.
If you can’t pay immediately, another way to go is to schedule a weekly or monthly appointment for yourself to pay your bills. Pick a day and time where you don’t have much going on and less prone to distractions.
If you use bank or store credit cards to pay for groceries, gas, or dining out, get in the habit of paying the balances off in full – every month. Credit card companies are more than willing to accept a minimum payment on your bill, but this practice can wreak havoc on your finances. Not only will you pay a crazy amount of interest, but a little bit of debt will also become a lot before you know it.
There may be times where this is just not an option. If you really have a financial struggle and can’t pay this balance off, be sure to pay at least the minimum amount due on time. If you can pay more – do it.
If you are struggling to stay afloat with your finances, you aren’t alone. We all fall behind on our bills at some point in our lives. Not only can falling behind in our bills be costly, but it can also lead us straight into debt. With careful planning and dedication to staying debt-free, you can take control of your financial future.