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The Bills You Never Want to Forget to Pay

Sarah Kaufman



Paying bills is like getting teeth pulled: You don’t want to do it, but sometimes you have to in order to suffer less later. The truth is, you should pay all of your bills on time — but here’s what happens when you don’t.

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Your credit card. Most credit card companies issue a penalty fee if you fail to make a payment by the respective due date. Oftentimes, you’ll be charged $25 for your first violation, but you could be charged $35 (plus interest) for each violation thereafter. The best thing to do is pay off your credit card balance in full each month. If you can’t do that, make sure you’re paying more than the minimum balance. Many consumers believe that all they have to do is pay the minimum balance on their credit card and leave the rest to the months ahead. While this will keep you from paying credit card late fees, paying that little will lead to a monstrous amount of interest fees, which means you’ll be paying much more over time.

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Your mortgage or rent. It’s true that the consequences of failing to pay your mortgage or rent on time aren’t always so serious. If the rent payment is just a few days late, it’ll often result with a slap on the wrist and a small late fee. But failing to pay your mortgage on time could eventually lead to a foreclosure and the demise of your credit. If for some reason you know you will not be able to make your monthly payment on time, notify your financial institution immediately and attempt to reach an agreement that allows you to pay late. That way, you’ll be protecting yourself from late fees and your credit from plummeting.

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Your utility bills. A common misconception is that only loans and other lines of credit affect your credit score, but the truth is, failing to pay your utility, cable and medical bills can negatively impact your credit, as well. Utility companies report payments in only a few states, which means that most consumer credit reports have no history of utility payment activity. However, if you fail to pay your bill and have an outstanding balance that you’re not paying, the utility companies could send the delinquent payment amount to a collection agency, which would report the amount to national credit reporting companies, which would send your credit score downward.

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