Staying on top of bills is an ongoing challenge for many. When we asked our program participants why they took out a payday loan, nearly a quarter of respondents said to pay for bills. That’s why we wanted to provide organizational tips for bill management and resources if you cannot afford to pay your bills right now.
To get a comprehensive list of all your bills, collect your bank and credit card statements, any mail or emails from creditors, and your credit report. From these sources, you should be able to get these four pieces of information for each bill: the creditor (who do you pay?), the minimum amount due (how much do you owe now?), the due date (when do you need to pay?), and the overall balance, if applicable (how much in total do you owe?).
If you can afford the minimum amount due on all of your bills or loans and have disposable income in your budget, it is a good idea to pay more. By paying extra, you can reduce your overall balance to eliminate debt sooner, pay less in interest, and potentially improve your credit score. For example, if you want to reduce your credit card debt, you’ll likely need to pay more than the minimum.
After getting all the information together, determine how you will pay by choosing one of these options:
Automatic payments are convenient for individuals who struggle with remembering due dates but typically have the funds in their bank account. Once initiated, it requires little effort from you to make payments. It works best for regular monthly bills of a predictable amount, like internet or streaming subscription services.
Regardless of how you pay, it is critical that you do your best to pay on time regularly. To help you do so, try to:
Life happens, and sometimes you cannot afford to pay one or more bills. If that is the case, contact your creditors to find out what options are available for you. While they may not be able to help with a specific bill, local CAP agencies or other community groups have assistance programs that might help you. In addition, you may want to temporarily use an emergency budget to get caught up or connect with a financial counselor for advice.
Bills for Month: _____________
How much right now?
How much in total?
Money Management E-Newsletter: December 2021