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Bill burden: How to stagger your payments

Would your cash flow would be better if bills arrived on a different schedule? You have the power to change the due dates.

By Nov 4, 2013 1:59PM
This post comes from Mariel Liebowitz at partner site on MSN MoneyEach month, most of us have a plethora of bills to pay. Depending on your income and how often you get paid, it can be a huge loss for you to make all your payments around the same time every month.

Couple paying bills using laptop © Jose Luis Pelaez Inc, Blend Images, Getty ImagesIn order to prevent this from happening, there’s a strategy you can implement to make your pay schedule work for you: by changing your billing due dates.

Making the change

To make these changes, simply contact your credit card issuer, utility company, bank or any other place you receive a monthly bill from and tell them you’d like to change your payment due date. This process is easier than you think and most companies don’t mind making adjustments for you. Keep in mind there are only three dates that tend to be off limits -- the 29th, 30th and 31st, and that's because they don't occur every month.

Organize your bills

One helpful way to figure out how to rearrange your schedule is to make a list. Write down all of your bills that are due each month and take note of which payments make the biggest dent in your bank account. Mapping out your cash flow and how often you get paid will help you determine when you should make what payment.

New payment options

If you get paid bi-monthly and your bills don’t vary greatly in terms of what you owe, you can split your payments in half.

For example, you can pay half of the bills in the beginning of the month after you receive your first paycheck, followed by the second half, after you get paid at the end of the month. If you have multiple credit cards, utilities and one loan, you could pay your credit card and utility bills at the same time, and then a few weeks later pay your loan.

If your bill payments vary in size, you can pay the smaller ones first and then the largest one(s) a few weeks later, or vice versa. To illustrate, if you have some utility bills that add up to around $200 and then a mortgage payment of $1,200, you can separate those and pay the utilities in the beginning of the month and the mortgage at the end.

Adjusting the timing of your credit card payment to when your cash flow is better may also allow you to pay more on your debt, which can help you more quickly lower your debt utilization ratio – an important factor in your credit score.  Reducing your debt can raise your credit score over time, and monitoring your credit score regularly can help you track your progress (and there are free online tools that can help you do that, including's Credit Report Card).

Finally, it’s important to know that once you change the due date, it usually takes one or two more billing cycles to take effect, so make sure you carefully keep track of your payments.

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