If you're a busy person, you know your life can move a mile a minute. And when you have too many obligations but not enough hours in the day, some tasks — like paying a bill on time — fall through the cracks.
Paying a bill late, or forgetting to pay it completely, can have serious consequences, such as late fees and a damaged credit score. These situations, however, are avoidable with automatic payments.
Granted, automation isn't for everyone, particularly people who don't want to give others access to their credit cards or bank accounts. But if you're busy and constantly losing track of due dates, this could be your answer. Simply select a day of the month to have payments drafted from your account, and you'll no longer worry about late payments. Here's a look at 10 bills you should put on autopay so you never pay another late fee.
Credit Card Bills
If you use multiple credit cards and carry balances from month to month, you'll receive statements every month notifying you of your due dates and minimum payments. Ideally, you should pay off your balances every month to avoid debt and maintain a low credit utilization ratio. But if you only pay the minimum, setting up automatic payments can ensure timely arrivals.
Paying a credit card bill late can result in late fees of as much as $25 to $38, depending on your credit card company. And if you completely forget about a bill and your payment becomes at least 30 days past due, your creditor might report the late payment to the credit bureaus. This action hurts your credit score.
Putting your credit card payments on autopay solves this problem. As long as you have sufficient funds in your bank account, your monthly payments will reach your creditors on or before your scheduled date due.
Your mortgage is likely your biggest monthly expense, so chances are you won't forget to make this payment each month. If your mortgage is a set amount that doesn't fluctuate from one month to the next, it makes sense to automate this expense. Many lender websites allow borrowers to make one-time online payments or set up recurring monthly payments.
By taking advantage of the latter option, you'll have one less payment to initiate every month. When you set up automatic payments, you don't have to worry about a mailed check arriving at the bank late. And, you won't risk incurring late fees, which can vary by bank and by state.
If you don't own a home, you're most likely paying rent to a landlord. And similar to a mortgage, if you pay your rent late, you could face late fees. You also could get on your landlord's bad side if your payments are repeatedly late. If you become a habitual late payer, there's a chance that your landlord won't renew your lease.
Fortunately, some apartment complexes allow online payments to assist residents with submitting monthly rent payments on time. In some cases, there's the option of setting up autopay for rent. This is useful because your rental agreement might not include a grace period. If there isn't a grace period and you submit your rent payment even a day late, you could get hit with a late fee. But if you set up automatic payments for the first of every month, you're in the clear.
Check Out: Expenses Your Landlord Should Be Covering
Student Loan Payments
If you're repaying a private or federal student loan, talk to your lender to see if you can set up an automatic payment. In most cases, your lender will have a system in place for these types of payments.
If you're a recent graduate and still adjusting to life outside the classroom, you could lose track of dates and forget to make student loan payments. Autopay can assist with managing your finances. And the best part: If you set up autopay for a student loan, you might qualify for an interest rate reduction. This can lower your monthly payment and help you save money every month.
In late 2016, the U.S. Department of Education announced the three-year federal student loan cohort default rate is "11.3 percent for students who entered repayment between fiscal years 2012 and 2013." By putting this bill on autopay, you'll keep your account in good standing and avoid negative credit consequences.
Perhaps you prefer to pay for your college education without the assistance of student loans. If so, your school might offer the option of paying tuition in monthly installments. This is advantageous because it reduces the likelihood of graduating with a mountain of student loan debt. However, make sure your school receives your tuition payments on time every month or else you'll face late fees.
If allowed, put your tuition payments on autopay to avoid running into any problems. Keep in mind, however, that if you choose a monthly payment plan, you might have to pay a fee to enroll. Check with your school, and weigh the pros and cons of setting up a tuition payment plan.
Car Insurance Payment
Regardless of your driving record, you need to find affordable car insurance coverage to protect your car and finances in the event of an accident. But if you fall behind on payments to your car insurance provider, you could lose your coverage in a heartbeat. The insurance company is under no obligation to reinstate your coverage, and if it does, you could find yourself with higher premium costs.
If you cause a car accident without active auto insurance, you're responsible for paying the cost of damages out of your own pocket. This can take a bite out of your personal savings, especially if you also have to pay another person's medical expenses. If you put your auto insurance on autopay, you'll enjoy continuous coverage and peace of mind.
Car Loan Payments
Car loan payments are fixed amounts each month and a perfect candidate for autopay. As previously mentioned, setting up automatic payments ensures your payment arrives on time and helps avoid late fees and a damaged credit score.
See if your auto lender will allow biweekly payments. If so, set up automatic payments for every other week, and with each payment, pay one-half of your car payment. This method is the equivalent of 13 monthly payments instead of 12. What's the difference? Making an extra payment each year accelerates repayment, allowing you to pay off your vehicle sooner and save hundreds of dollars in interest costs.
Most of us can't afford to be without health insurance for ourselves or our family members. But even if you purchase coverage, completely forgetting to pay your bill could result in losing your insurance after just one month of non-payment, or up to three months in some cases. If you don't have active coverage and become sick or need medical attention after an injury or accident, you'll end up paying your medical expenses out of pocket.
To reduce the chances of this happening to you, set up autopay and have your health insurance premiums automatically drafted from your bank account. Talk to your health insurance provider to see if this is an option. And choose a draft date that works with your budget.
Read More: 10 Ways to Save on Insurance in 2017
Life insurance is something many people need. Even if you're single and don't have any dependents, a policy is beneficial because it can cover the cost of final expenses, such as your funeral and burial.
After purchasing a policy, make sure your monthly payments arrive on time every month. Your provider could cancel your policy if a payment isn't received within the grace period. The good news is that you might be allowed to pay what you owe and reinstate the policy without having to re-apply for coverage. But why go through this hassle when automatic payments can result in continuous coverage?
Related: 8 Ways to Save on Life Insurance
Technically, this isn't a bill. But retirement planning is just as important as any other monthly expense, so take the appropriate steps to ensure you're saving enough for the future. By automating your savings, you're building that nest egg without having to write a check each month. That assures you aren't putting off your savings or finding another use for the money.
Retirement planning is easier said than done, however. For that matter, you should take advantage of any opportunity to automate retirement contributions. If you're eligible for a 401k through your employer, there's the option of paying into a retirement plan through payroll deductions. Or, maybe you have an individual retirement account (IRA). If so, ask your financial advisor about setting up automatic deposits into your retirement account from a bank account every month.
Whether you have a history of making late payments or you want to simplify your finances, autopay could be the solution. All you have to do is choose an amount to deduct from your account on a certain day each month. It's that easy.