It’s probably happened to you at some point: A bill falls through the cracks. I know it’s happened to me — and more than once. Occasionally I’ll get busy and forget about a bill, or I’ll just be behind, and put off my regular financial tasks, and a bill or two will be late as a result.
This can be especially serious if, like me, you use your credit cards as part of your overall financial planning. I like to use my credit cards for just about any purchase in order to maximize rewards. As a result, there is almost always something going on with my credit card, and the balance needs to be paid each month (usually in full to avoid interest charges).
When you forget, or you put off your bill payment day, things can get dicey, however. You can see late fees poled on, and you end up paying interest (which is never my preference). If you want to make sure that you don’t have these mishaps, here are some strategies for ensuring that your credit card is paid on time each month:
Set Up Reminders
One of the things I like to do is set up reminders. I have reminders in my phone to alert me that something is coming due. You can also use Google Calendar and other similar tools to make sure that you pay on time.
Schedulers and reminders can be a good way to draw your attention to what is happening with your finances. I like to set up recurring reminders so that each month I am forced to review whether or not I have done what I should in terms of paying my bills.
I usually set up the reminders on my phone so that they periodically remind me until I can check the task off my to-do list. There are task managers and apps that can also help you manage your bill payment, and stay on top of the situation.
Designate Regular Money Days
You can also designate regular money days. You might say that you will sit down every Thursday and review your finances and take care of what needs to be done. Others take care of their finances every other Tuesday, or designate the 17th day of the month as a money day. However you do it, the important thing is to get in the habit of regularly reviewing your finances and making sure that everything is in proper order.
A reminder of some sort can also be a good idea, though, since it can provide you with the ability to see what’s coming due in the event that something unexpected interrupts your regularly scheduled money day. This happens to me on a regular basis, and having the reminder pop up is good because then it forces me to prioritize my money day. This is especially important if I’ve put off checking in with my money for more than three or four days beyond the regular time.
Set Up Automatic Payments
The hat tip for this strategy goes to Matt from Listen, Money Matters. He suggested that you set up automatic payments to your credit card. Many credit card issuers will allow you to set up payments so that the minimum is automatically deducted from your checking account if you owe something. If you get in there and schedule your payment, then it’s no big deal. However, if you find that you’ve missed your payment, the minimum is automatically made. You can go back in later (after you’ve realized your lapse) and pay off the remaining balance. This is a great stop-gap measure to avoid incurring late fees.
In the end, it’s important to make sure that you are doing what you can to reduce the chances that you will forget a credit card payment. Not only can it cost you money directly, but you can also end up with a lower credit score if it happens too often.