It is incredibly easy to simply miss a bill’s due date or some other financial deadline. You fully intend to take care of it and have the means to do so, but it simply slips through your thoughts, and you find yourself having to pay a lot more due to late fees, interest and overdue notices.
This doesn’t have to be the case. Thanks to a plethora of online tools, a person never has to miss a bill’s due date or filing deadline ever again. Here are some of the strategies you can use to make sure that bills and other things never “slip your mind,” helping you avoid many late fees and fines.
Online banking. Most online banking services offer the ability to schedule payments. Many tools allow you to even pay bills automatically close to their due date, and some will even retrieve the balance of bills, such as your electric bill, and pay it without you even lifting a finger.
Capital One 360, for example, offers integration with thousands of businesses, allowing customers to automatically retrieve bills and pay their balances without the customer having to think about it. By simply linking your other service accounts within your Capital One 360 account, you can have those bills paid completely automatically, with payments arriving before the due date, so you can avoid late fees.
Of course, the challenge with such automation is that you run the risk of overdrafting your accounts if you’re not careful, which incurs a completely different set of expenses. For example, if you’re not paying close attention, you may find that a higher-than-usual electric bill is paid automatically while you don’t have sufficient funds in your checking account, resulting in an overdraft fee. Thus, such strategies work best with a well-stocked checking account that doesn’t run such risks.
Google Calendar. Google Calendar – or any other such online or offline calendar tool of your choice – offers a lot of advantages in terms of bill-planning. You can add repeating reminders of regular bills, reminding you to check them and pay them in advance of their due date. You can also manually add reminders for unexpected bills.
By getting in the routine of adding such reminders a week or so before the due date of the bill, you can quickly see that this task needs to be done on a particular day, making sure that you get that bill paid right on time.
The big disadvantage of this tool is that it requires you to be a regular calendar user. If you’re not already using a calendar for daily scheduling of upcoming events, you’ll often find yourself missing those reminders and deadlines.
You can achieve much the same thing with a robust to-do list manager such as Todoist or Remember The Milk. Such tools can generate regularly occurring to-dos and offer very useful viewpoints that allow you to see what’s coming up in the next few days as needed.
Smartphone reminders. Smartphone reminders offer clear notification of upcoming bills and deadlines right on your phone, which is the centerpiece of many people’s digital lives. Much as with calendaring tools, you can set up recurring reminders of bill deadlines or one-time reminders of irregular expenses or other due dates.
These reminders have the advantage of having your smartphone make you very aware of them when they occur with onscreen notifications, vibrations and sounds depending on your specific settings, making sure that you see them. However, such reminders are inherently linked to your smartphone, meaning that if you aren’t tied to constant smartphone use, those notifications become far less useful.
A multipronged approach. The best approach is to apply all of these tools in concert. Set up your calendaring tool to put notifications on your phone, so you are less likely to miss them. See if your online banking system has a smartphone app with notifications or even offers calendar integration in some way. Simply make sure that you have the information and notifications you need in whatever way you happen to use frequently to look at your upcoming events.
The goal is to simply make sure that you’re reminded of these upcoming financial events when you need to be reminded of them, and that any regular financial tasks are handled automatically without your intervention. Once you have this kind of trusted system in place, you shouldn’t have to face a late notice, an overdraft charge or extra fees ever again.