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Getting ahead on bill payment

Fires and floods followed by a global pandemic and a worldwide economic meltdown means that many Australians are feeling the strain when it comes to ensuring their finances are in order.

But just as your refusal to carry an umbrella won’t stop the arrival of the rain, avoiding your mailbox won’t stop your bills from piling up either.

Learning new ways to prioritise your bills and making a habit of paying them by their due dates can not only reduce your stress, but can actually help you save money in the long term by enabling you to access lower-interest credit in the future.

Financial experts say there are a number of different ways you can learn to start making a habit out of paying your bills on time.

Take note of your billing cycles

Consider starting by reviewing several months’ worth of paid bill statements and place the bills in the order that they are due. It is likely most will fall into two date groups—ones due in the first five or so days of each month and those due later in the last 10 days of the month.

As soon as your pay is received, pay the bills that are due prior to your next payment. If you don’t have enough money in your account to regularly pay all of the bills due before the next time you receive your salary, contact your creditors to enquire about changing your payment due dates.

Location, location, location

While it may seem a bit like overkill, creating a designated bill-paying location in your strata residence is also a worthwhile use of your time. Stuffing a bill into your handbag or briefcase or throwing it on the kitchen table when you come in from work are good ways to forget—and often miss—the payment due date.

Routine is best

While some experts suggest storing and arranging your bills by their due dates, others say you should instead set aside a certain date each month to pay your invoices. By setting aside a regular time to pay your bills, you’ll create a habit that will make you much less likely to miss a due date, while eliminating the need for you to pay late fees which could cost upwards of $20 per bill. That’s money better spent for you, not for late fees.

Use email for your bill delivery

Most creditors offer online bill payment reminder features. Request to go paperless when it comes to receiving your bill and when it lands in your inbox, use it as a prompt to log into your bank account there and then and pay the bill, ensuring you need never miss a due date again.

Pay your bills ahead of time

While this may seem like a pipe dream at first, you may be surprised how much you can save by prepaying some bills in advance.

By setting aside an amount each month to cover bills, this is particularly helpful for quarterly bills such as levy payments. Rather than paying out a lump sum each quarter, your funds will already be allocated in your account and it won’t feel like a big chunk has been taken out because you’ve already budgeted for it.

The final word

Getting your finances in order is a significant achievement. By getting yourself into a regular bill payment routine, you will save yourself the fear that you may not be able to meet your obligations as well as the concern of how much you are likely to be charged in late payment fees.

In making bill payment a priority, there’s a good chance you’ll feel more confident about your ability to manage your finances while saving money at the same time.

While we’re on the subject… Smarter Communities Community Support Team Leader, Lianna Hendy, says you should always try to approach your community managers to discuss the options available to you if you or someone you know is having difficulty paying their strata levies.

Depending on your individual circumstances, there are a number of hardship options available. But to access them you must first be aware of what the options are, so always check with your community manager or financial advisor as early as possible in the process to ensure the best outcome can be reached for all concerned parties.

 

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