Why Can't You Ever Make On-Time Payments?

By Tisha Tolar on 12 January 2009 (Updated 22 February 2010) 11 comments



How frustrating is it to pay all of your bills each month when you finally get a minute to sit down and take care of things, only to find out later you got socked with penalties and late fees again for being late? Not only is it frustrating, it is a complete and preventable waste of your hard-earned money.

Many creditors are no longer as forgiving about grace periods and payment timelines. It is now more important that you have an organized system for ensuring all of your bills get paid and on-time, each time. You need to change your financial habits to eliminate late fees and help you on your way to living a debt-free life, with a much-improved rating of credit. Since no one method works for every single person or financial circumstance, here is a check list of questions to get you thinking about your money habits and how you can mold them to a more effective way of managing your financial responsibilities.

Why is it so hard to be on time each month?

Perhaps the reason your financial house isn't organized is because the rest of your life is helter-skelter as well. Are you always late because you just do not have the time to devote to your money issues? If that is the case, you need to know that you absolutely do have the time. You just need to find it. That will involve changing your daily habits and making a stronger commitment to getting out of debt and making the most of your money. As we are all dealing with chaotic schedules, there will come a time when you need to slow down and take a look at what unnecessary things you can cut out to make more time for the important things. This is not only important for your money matters, it will also prove to be important for your levels of stress and your overall health. If you are paying bills late because you don't have time, your first step should be a re-evaluation of your daily living habits.

hey just don't have the money to pay them. This can be a difficult situation but definitely not one that is out of your control. If you have prepared a monthly budget, you should already know how much money it takes to meet your financial obligations for the month in conjunction with your income. If you numbers total out to be a negative, it is time to look for more income or cut your costs. If you have a good job, get your act together and make a case for a raise. If you want more from your career, maybe it is time to look for something new. If a new job is not in the cards for you, pick up some odd jobs around the neighborhood or apply for a part time position to add the needed income to your monthly budget. If you are not capable of altering your work life, take a hard look at what you are spending your money on and start making sacrifices. Cut out the cable or cell phone bill to save on money. There are a number of things you can live without, at least for a little while until you get yourself out of debt.

Are you not adept at handling money?

Some people just have no clue how to deal with money issues. Either they had parents who were always late in paying bills or they were just never taught basic management skills. Whatever the reason, there is no shame in asking for help. There are plenty of free online resources, including our site, where you can learn from other people's experiences. Take a basic personal finance class offered at the local community center. You don't necessarily have to hire an expensive CPA to deal with your basic expenses. You can learn to do it on your own if you really want to find financial freedom.

Whatever the reason your bills are late each month is just not a good enough excuse for doing something about it. Procrastination will cost you a ton of money if you do not change your money habits. Think about it – would you take a $5 bill and throw it out of the window of your car? Nope, probably not. But in essence, if you are freely paying money to your creditors because you don't have your act together, you might as well leave your wallet open on the roof of your car then next time you feel inclined to take a drive on the freeway.

 

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Guest's picture
Guest

Hey, has anyone else noticed that your "bad" credit card companies have begun to allow less time to actually pay your bill? For example, I have a high-interest credit card bill from an emergency vet visit- each month they move up the due date a little bit- so I find myself behind almost before I've had a chance to arrange to pay it! I am channeling a lot of my energy into getting this paid off, but it seems like they're always one step ahead of me. Is it just me?

Guest's picture

Maybe it's just a matter of getting a huge calendar and marking out the dates or general weeks that things are due

Fabulously Broke in the City
Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver...

Guest's picture
lucille

I have actually read stories of credit card companies constantly moving the due or billing dates (or both) in order to create smaller than 30 day windows for payment.

I had a service provider who really can't get their act together change their billing address three times and our account numbers all in a short span of time. I noticed due dates also changed among this. Oh and they have been quietly cutting services out and now they are significantly raising everyone's rates yet again. This whole mess caused them to lose our payment and of course try to blame us. So I wasted a bunch of time proving my bank took it out of our account and sent the payment.

If your service company or other business you use is constantly creating this kind of chaos it is a good sign to dump them. If a company is wasting significant amounts of my time trying to keep the account figured out or simply paid they are not worth it. The one in question is being replaced.

I was looking at bills. The ones that get paid on time all the time bill the same every month and have a consistent billing cycle. Those were easy to set up a bill pay to coordinate with a recent pay day.

Guest's picture
CB

I read this tip on one of the liferemix sites, and now whenever I receive bill, I address it immediately, usually paying online. That way, I'm not caught up keeping track of all the odd dates that payments are due. If I need to wait a bit to get more funds, I staple the bill to my wall calendar and circle the day that it must be taken care of on the calender. This has worked for me. I also limit the credit cards to two and use my debit card whenever I can (on line is not a good idea).

Having a three-hole-punch folder in which I attach all bills for the month within a separate tab also has worked for me. I've done this for over a year. The main organizer is my bank statement. Utility and credit card and other bills are included as they arrive. I also write the payment status (paying off most as they arrive). I keep receipts and check them off for each monthly statement. After the year is over, I move the tabs out for the next year.

Fred Lee's picture

Sometimes I'm amazed that credit card companies make money when they take such huge chances on people with bad creidt, but obviously it pays off for them because they keep doing it. Even though the decision lies with us, they seem a bit sneaky and immoral in the way they suck people in, but such is the way of the world.

I agree with you, the key is to moderate and decide what is necessary what is frivolous. Sure, it's not as fun, but tough times call for tough measures.

Debbie Dragon's picture

I have one account that literally sends the statement a day before it's due, so that it arrives after it's due date.  It's not a credit card, it's a loan and when I call the company they say it's my responsibility to make payment arrangements since it's due the same time every month.... even if I don't have a statement.  Luckily I have it set to automatically pay from my checking account, but I know i would forget about it if I didn't do that !

 

Guest's picture
jimmy

There aren't any excuses for people not to pay their bill on time, unless they don't have the money. You can look at your account online any time you want.

Nowadays, with electronic bill pay, you either ask your loan company to pull money out of your account or ask your bank to send money from your checking account.

I don't like letting anyone taking my money out of my account, so I use my checking account bill pay to send a payment. I have my accounts set up to send e-mail messages to me letting me know when they are due.

Guest's picture
Todd

I would have a hell of a time observing where all my money goes if it weren't for tools like Mint and Quicken. It amazes me that wisebread doesn't extol these types of services (did I miss it?). The first part to saving your money is knowing how you use it. These services ease that precise problem. Once you know you owe money, then you can go pay it online. Problem solved.

Guest's picture
Guest

use an online bill paying system, and pay the CCs when your paycheck gets in. (this only works if you have a little cash reserve and no debt.)

Guest's picture
Slackerjo

Every payday I withdraw my 2 week 'allowance' from the bank. Then I put $27 worth of gas in the car (Toyota Echo so that will fill it). Then I go and buy 2 weeks worth of groceries (I've made a grocery list at lunchtime at work). When I go home I put $5 in the groceries can (in case I run out of milk or bread). The rest of the money is what I call DI "disposable income." It's for spending on anything I want. I don't even track it. It's there to be spent. Sometimes I spend it all, sometimes I don't.

This leaves the rest of my pay sitting in my bank account ready to be zapped out. Cable, rent, phone, car insurance is all ready to go. I only use my credit card for expenses that are going to be reimbursed by work (usually a massage or dentist visit) No checks, no missed payments, no worries. Oh and yes, savings/investments are zapped out by my employer. I never see that money on my pay so I never worry about it.

I don't make very much money so if I can do auto pay, anyone can.

Guest's picture
Guest

After forgetting to pay a couple of bills, I did get myself a desk calendar, when I got a bill I would put it on the calendar, usually a couple of days before the due date, whether paying online or by snail mail. I haven't been late since.