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In my dirty basement days, I always kept stressing about every bill that was approaching. I learned to automate it by having automatic payments over manual. But that didn’t exactly solve the problem of keeping track when each bill was due and planning for payment. Even worse, you might be like me and stress out over each bill that needs to be paid.
This is part of my beginner finance series, keep following me to check it out!
Stressing Over Each Bill is Unhealthy
We all have a crapload of bills to pay each month: Phone, utilities, insurance, credit cards, loans, etc. Each has their own payment dates and regardless of your preferred payment method, do you really want stress out 6-12 times a month on each bill?
Screw that! If you are someone that does manual payments or payments by check, you are always keeping an eye out on your checking account. As someone who prefers to live a stress-free life, constant worry about bills is not a happy lifestyle.
Not to mention, when you have multiple due dates of bill payment you increase the likelihood of missing a payment or paying late which will cost you extra time and money.
I want to propose that an ideal solution, change your payment due dates to the same date so you can pay bills at once. I believe that this will dramatically reduce stress and time in your bill payment process.
Understanding Billing Cycles
I think what most people don’t realize is that most billing cycles revolve around a service that has been fulfilled from a previous time period. Phone, utilities (water/heat/etc), and credit card payments are based on previous use.
That means that they need to make it as painless as possible for you to pay them back. They want their money, so why would they make it harder for you to pay them?
That is why most of these companies allow for automatic payments, payments by credit cards, and the ability to change your due date. Also, these companies often have their own billing cycles in which they process payments often 1 or 2 times a month as well.
The key here is that you will only need to track and make payments once a month. Saving you time as it’s only a once a month process compared to a dozen stressful processes.
Changing Your Payment Due Dates
STEP 1: KEEPING TRACK OF ALL OF YOUR BILL PAYMENT DATES
I’ll keep this step simple. Take a look at my google spreadsheet and insert the bills that will be taken out of your checking account. Some of us make most payments by credit card (even utilities) so it doesn’t matter when those payments occur. But what does matter are the bills that directly take money out of your checking account.
If you are someone that pays via debit card or by check, then include all your bills in your Google Spreadsheet (or whatever document you prefer). See my example below:
Click the link -> Go to File -> Make A Copy -> Save the file so you can edit your own bills
I’ve also included the user ID and password for each account because you will need to keep track of billing and some companies allow you to change the payment date online. You will also get a notification when you successfully change your billing date.
STEP 2: LOOK AT YOUR DUE DATES AND DECIDE THE IDEAL PAYMENT DATE
Everyone is different. Most of this our payment date determined by either when you get paid over the course of the month, or by personal preference. In the example above you see that most of the due dates are focused around mid-month and other dates are a mix between the beginning/end.
My rule of thumb is to focus all of your bill payments either around the dates that you can’t change (rent/mortgage is the biggest one) or a date that’s about 2-3 days after you receive a paycheck.
- For me, the ideal dates are 3rd, 7th, 17th or 28th.
- These dates are often a couple days out from most paychecks so you can plan for the full month ahead of time all at once.
For fixed dates (usually, rent/mortgage) I recommend keeping tabs on the bills you can’t move. You can still make all of your flexible bills either a couple days after your fixed bills. The key is that you still only need to plan once a month all at once.
My mortgage is due on the 1st, but all of my credit card payments are paid on the 4th. It’s totally up to you!
STEP 3: CONTACT YOUR LOAN/CREDIT CARD/BILL PAY COMPANIES
Calling is often the most effective way to change your payment due date.
- Request to speak with a customer service representative (preferably billing)
- As for a due date change
- Pick the optimal due date that makes sense (some companies have limited dates available)
- Once approved, you will get an email and letter mail notification on your date change.
In my experience, credit card companies offer the most flexibility in changing due dates.
You can also go online and request to change your due date. This is probably the faster method, but it’s not guaranteed that you’ll have the ability to change your due date online and you’ll have to call anyway.
In the example above (reflected off my own bills) I was able to change most dates to the 3rd of the month. The remaining dates are either the 1st or the 7th.
This means that I always plan my next bill payments in the middle of the month and that’s it. I simply log onto my accounts in the middle of the month, update the amount owed, and set up my payments.
Protip: Get Automatic Payments
I love automatic payments because it saves so much time compared to manual payments. I don’t need to worry if my check got delivered in time or worry that it might be late.
Best of all, everything is done for you! I get that if you use automatic payments then keeping track of due dates might seem moot, but the cornerstone to good finance is to be cognizant of your budget/spend. Even if you have automatic payments set up, you still should see how much you are spending and are keeping track of your budget.
Now, I get why some people prefer writing checks and if that’s up your alley, the more power to you. I’m more of a set it and forget it type of guy.
- How To Create A Budget Living Paycheck To Paycheck
- Getting Familiar With Your First Credit Card
- How To Keep Track & Budget For Balance Transfers
- Automatic vs Manual Credit Card Payments, Which is Better?