Have you ever found yourself falling sleep and then suddenly realized that you forgot to pay your credit card bill? It happens to everyone, and sometimes it’s no big deal. If you’ve paid a bill on time for years, you can often get penalties waived for a first-time slip-up.
But when it happens repeatedly, it can cause real problems with your budget and eventually with your credit score. Fortunately, there are terrific budget apps like Mint that offer bill reminders to help prevent this type of thing.
Here are 5 ways they can help your budget, and your sanity.
1. By Giving You Advanced Warning
Knowing that your gas bill is due in four days gives you time to transfer money into your checking account if necessary. If you routinely drive past the local pharmacy where you have a monthly credit account, a bill reminder can let you know you need to stop by on your way home from work.
2. By Getting You Into a Bill Paying Routine
Another function of the bill reminder is to get you into a routine of paying bills on time. Whether you do all your monthly bill paying at once, twice a month, or as bills come due, having bill reminders gets you into a routine of paying them all, and paying them all on time. Even if you get to where you don’t need bill reminders, keep them activated to prevent possible slip-ups.
3. By Sending Notifications to Your Preferred Bill-Paying Environment
The best bill reminder is the one that reaches you where it matters. If you sit down at home with your computer, bill reminders sent to your email are more likely to be received. If you pay bills during your lunch break, have your reminders sent via text message.
4. By Helping Your Credit Score Over Time
The rare slip-up generally doesn’t harm your credit history, but if you routinely forget to pay bills on time, eventually your credit history will reflect those habits. Lower credit scores mean that you’ll pay higher interest rates when you borrow money, and that interest really adds up over the years.
5. By Identifying and Helping You Plan for Repeated Costs
Personal finance apps like Mint can learn to detect patterns over time, including regular bills that you may have forgotten to include with bill reminders. For example, if it sees you made a payment to Pacific Gas & Electric, it will flag to have a bill reminder set up. This is particularly helpful after big life changes, like a cross-country move, when your bill paying routine can change significantly.
Ditch the personal planner. Personal finance apps can stay with you on the go, so your budget and bill payment schedule are always accessible, which will help avoid late fees, improve your payment record, and enjoy the benefits that conscientious bill paying habits bring through a better credit history.
Give it a try: Mint’s bill reminders help prevent late fees. Click to get started.
Mary Hiers is a personal finance writer who helps people earn more and spend less.