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Money leaks: Forgetting to pay your bills

Fortunately there are systems in place that can help even the most forgetful.

By MSN Money Partner Jun 14, 2011 9:02AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


We all know that banks and credit card companies make a ton of money from 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 post is an installment of our new Money Leaks series.)


How can you avoid forgetting to pay your bills? Post continues after video.

  • 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-plus 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. (How to schedule online reminders.)

In the event that you do miss payment on a bill, try calling up the company to see if you can get the fee rescinded.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 willing 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?


More on Bargaineering and MSN Money:



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