How I Pay My Bills

You know how your credit card bill is due 25 days after the cut-off of the billing period? Or your cable or cell phone bill is due a few weeks after it arrives in the mail? Some people then think “Oh, I’ll pay it later” and put off paying the bill until it’s past due. With all of the different bills that I have (credit cards, cable, cell phone, rent, electricity), trying to keep track of all of the due dates is annoying.

My solution? Pay the bill immediately when I receive it. Since the balance in my checking account covers all of my regular bills, variable expenses, and has a nice buffer, I know that there is always the money to pay the bill.

For credit card accounts, this helps to keep the balance lower since I never use more than 10-20% of the credit limit before the billing period is over and then as soon as the statement amount is displayed in the online banking, I make a payment as of that day for the full balance. This also helps me to feel like the amount billed on the credit cards is far more manageable since I don’t charge very much on each card every month.

I also read *every* statement. My cable provider often increases the bill slightly every few months and sometimes there are random small annoyances on my cell phone bill as well. By getting the latest 6-month promotion and buying my own cable modem (used and cheap), I’ve reduced my cable and internet bill down to only about $50 per month, which is pretty good.

Readers, how do you go about paying your bills? Do you pay them right away like I do or do you wait until the very end of the grace period?

28 thoughts on “How I Pay My Bills

  1. I have all our bills set up to be paid electronically. The smaller ones get paid automatically, and the larger ones I pay manually online as soon as they are received. This saves me so much time!

    One key aspect of our set-up is that I push the money from our bank account to our bill companies rather than giving them access to our checking account. That way I can cancel any bill pays through my bank and all our utility companies/credit card companies, etc do not have access to our bank account.

    • I have my gym membership paid automatically on a credit card and my monthly donation goes on the same credit card. It’s kind of fun to see that credit card be the same amount every month!

      I used to have the cable & internet bill be paid on a credit card, but that got cancelled when I moved since a new account was created and I haven’t re-set it up. I don’t like the idea of automatic credit card payment since that’s done on the utility’s side rather than my side, so I’m going to try to figure out how to do that on the bank’s side. My electricity provider doesn’t provide the bills in my online banking, so I can’t actually set it up automatically on my bank’s side and I just pay the bill when it arrives.

  2. I called up the cc companies and any bill I could change to have it due sometime during the first week of the month for bank drafts and put anything I could bill to my credit card on the credit card. I get paid on the first of the month, so this helps with a once a month spot-check of making sure our finances are on track and nobody has made a mistake.

    I do my bills every weekend, but send them out at the end of each month. On payday I make sure everything is reconciled.

    • I like the idea of having everything due during the first week of the month – that’s when my insurance payments are all auto-drafted. Some places wouldn’t change things, so a lot of things are all randomly dispersed throughout the month. I should try to see if I can change the billing dates though, hmmm.

  3. My internet bill is automated, so I never have to worry about that – my credit card balance and cell phone bill come due on the same day and I have had that day memorized for years (The 23rd of the month) so I pay it on the due date (I’d rather have money accruing interest than paid on bills all month so I do it the last day I can).

    • My first credit card bill has been the same billing date for quite awhile and I’ve had that memorized too! In fact, I really have them all memorized… I’m really good at remembering dates :)

      I used to have the idea of preferring money to accrue interest, but I found that made it more complicated, so now I just pay them when I get them since I know the money is there. It’s not really worth the pennies of interest I would earn on my $50 cable and internet bill to think about when I’m actually paying it.

  4. I usually pay my bills about two weeks after I get them. I split my phone bill with my family, and the internet bill with my roommates, so I just write who ever is in charge of the bill a check or transfer money to their bank account

    • That sounds about what I did when I lived with roommates :) One person was in charge of the internet, one in charge of the gas, and one in charge of the hydro. I hated it when people took forever to cash my checks though!

  5. I pay most of my bills using credit cards. I use online bill payment to pay credit card bills or utilities that do not accept credit card payment. I usually set up the bills to be paid in the online bill payment system 2-3 times a month and specify appropriate due date for each payment and the system takes care of paying them automatically without any further intervention.

    This works great for me.

  6. We have all the bills we can auto-drafted out of our account, and I honestly don’t know how their pay dates relate to the due date. Probably they are a few days in advance. I must say, we don’t read out bills. If there was ever a problem (which there has never been) I suppose we would discover it after we paid it as the amount wouldn’t match our budget, which definitely isn’t the best way.

    For a more direct answer to your question, our rent is “due on the 1st and late on the 5th.” Because we are paid on the 25th, I think we should have no problem paying our rent by the 1st. My husband, who is responsible for paying the rent, thinks that the grace period means the rent isn’t due until the 5th and so doesn’t pay it until close to then!

    My first credit card was like what you described – the bill was posted at the end of the billing period and then became available to pay sometime later. It frustrated me because sometimes I couldn’t pay for something I had purchased for 1-2 months after I had bought it! I like the way our two main credit cards now handle it. As soon as a purchase goes through, it is available to be paid in part or in full. I pay off the cards around the 10th, 20th, and 30th of each month, so they never even become due and I don’t even know when the due date is!

    • I find that my cable and internet bill is almost always a different number each month (even if it’s off by pennies), which drives me nuts. The last few months, it has gone down since I bought a modem instead of continuing to rent one from them, which paid off pretty quickly! My cell phone bill changes too from travel roaming fees. I usually try to avoid them, but inevitably, I end up with some and I actually budget for an overage of a couple dollars a month just in case.

      My rent is “due on the 1st and late after the 5th”. I’m paid on the last business day of the month, so rent paying is timed perfectly! Haha, yeah some people do that, same with mortgage payments that aren’t late until the 7th. I would just pay it so the money is gone from my account already!

      I would hate that credit card too! The lady who opened up one of my credit cards for me actually told me that she pays her credit card off every pay day and she doesn’t really know when the due date is either. Your story reminded me of that :) Have you checked your credit history? Does it show that there is any balance on your credit cards with the way you’re paying them?

  7. I try to pay bills when I receive them, but recently we’ve fell behind (not late though). Since our move, we’re still trying to configure a budget that works. Our bill due dates plus bi-weekly paychecks are proving to be a bit of a headache. None of our bill companies are willing to readjust their due dates either, and we haven’t been able to get ahead so we have that buffer in our account. Frustrating. Definitely need to work out a system for bill paying.

    • Yay for having a buffer in your account! :) That probably makes this whole process a lot less stressful.

      Budgeting for new utilities after a move sucks! My apartment building bills me for water, heating, trash, etc. each month, but I really have no way of knowing how much those amounts will be. This month’s were DOUBLE last month’s. I guess it’ll take a few months to get that figured out. My Comcast bill date got changed to the date when I moved, which I was completely not expecting. And I’m still not quite sure what happened with my electric bill. Sigh.

  8. I pay all of my bills on the first of the month. I only get paid once a month, the last day of the month, so it works nicely. I never did well when I had bills scattered everywhere.

    • That’s a good plan! I get paid once a month too and I hate having bills scattered everywhere, but I worry too that I would forget about one if I didn’t pay it right away after receiving it.

      • I have them listed in a Word document. So when I finish paying them that day, I check the list and make sure. At first, I wouldn’t even pay without the list but now I have them all memorized. And it helps i don’t really have that many bills to actually pay.

        • That’s a really good plan! My spending plan essentially lists out all of the bills that I see monthly, so by checking that those categories were each spent down to zero, I see that the bill did get paid at some point. I do kind of know when they are all billed/due now and I expect the statements.

  9. My secret is to not have any bills.

    lol I wish. But I do keep my bills to a minimum: cellphone, internet, and credit card. Cellphone and internet both automatically go on the credit card — one bill to pay, one location to monitor for consistency. Also, because of credit card law in Canada, if a company messed up my bill, I could fight that company directly AND dispute the charge with my credit card provider.

    • Haha, I still remember when I was an intern and whenever I would call into my bank, they would ask me if I wanted to add bill pay service. I would tell the guy that I didn’t have any bills and he was so confused! My rent was paid directly off my paycheck and I had a prepaid cell phone! So I didn’t have any bills.

      I now have: credit cards (4), cable/internet, cell phone, electricity, rent (includes water/sewer/garbage), gym membership, and then other sports dues… And then there are the coinsurance bills for health insurance that sometimes take like THREE MONTHS to appear in the mail after some service was rendered. That drives me nuts. Way too many bills. I am starting to understand how some people get overwhelmed with bills and forget to pay them…

  10. I don’t have any bills that I can’t automate through either or my credit union. I have recurring payments for the fixed bills and i have my utilities to auto pay in full through mycheckfree. I haven’t automated credit cards yet- I just go into mycheckfree or my credit union when I get the bill and schedule the payment for a few days before the due date.

    • What’s I like the idea of recurring payments for the fixed bills, but honestly, other than my gym membership, none of them seem to be fixed, which drives me nuts.

  11. All the bills I have go directly on to a credit card automatically. Then when that bill comes up, I usually pay it within a week of receiving it. I check my credit card account probably a couple times a week so I’ve never missed a payment due date. And looking at EVERY statement is very important; they keep sneaking in things like additional services or identity theft or weird charges like that.

    • I totally agree about checking *every* statement! Pretty much every bill seems to vary by pennies every month and I need to keep on top of that. If I wanted additional services I would have asked for them!

  12. I have every single one of my bills set up on auto pay. I think it’s so much easier and way less hassle. I know some people don’t like to do this in case the bill shows an unexpected amount. But I track all my expenses daily with Mint, so there are never any surprises. And I guess even if I didn’t have autopay Mint will send you reminders when your bill is ready.

    • You hit the money on the reason why I don’t do that! There are so many of them that I should probably improve my system to put some on auto-pay. Some day.

    • I do too. That way even if you are traveling for six weeks you don’t have to worry about paying bills. Everything will always be paid in full, on time.

      • When I plan on traveling for an extended period of time, I’ve found ways to set the bills up on auto-pay. I just don’t like the idea of giving my cable company my credit card to freely charge it, etc. I should try to find a way to automate things on my bank’s end instead.

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