Cents & Sensibility: The Real Cost Of Paying Bills Late

You might think leaving your bills for later is an easy way to avoid pain and suffering, but you're going to end up hurting even more when you realize how much damage you're really doing to your wallet and your credit.

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historicalFor example, did you know late fees are often more than what you pay in interest? That is already way too much. Before you know it, you'll be sliding down the slippery slope of late payments and bad credit.

In short, you need to pay your bills on time in order to: Avoid late fees. Duh, $30 a pop can really add up. Even if you only pay late only four times a year, that's already $120! Do it every month and you're looking at $360 a year. That's enough to buy a plane ticket.

Avoid having your service turned off. It may not seem terrible to delay paying electric bill, late payments on cable, or other late payments. The cable and utility companies will hunt you down and shut off all your services. The worst part is they almost always charge you extra to turn it back on. Imagine if you were having a Super Bowl party and all of a sudden your cable went kaput. Talk about embarrassing! Not to mention expensive.

Avoid bad credit. Stop paying your bills long enough and you can kiss a good credit score goodbye. But even paying them late a few times can drive your score down. Bad credit can prevent you from getting future loans and credit cards, and it can make you look bad to potential employers, landlords, cell phone providers and just about anyone who checks your score. Not cool.

Of course, sometimes life throws you curve balls and it's hard to pay the bills on time. So make sure you have a backup plan – like a savings account, for example. But do whatever you can to pay those bills on time. And if you're in a pinch, don't be afraid to talk to your creditors to see if you can set up a payment plan, or change your billing cycle to get your bills closer to your paychecks. Most of them would rather get some money than no money. It is also easy to pay bills online so, instead of mailing that check the day it is due and receiving a late fee, find out how to pay your bills online and allow yourself a few extra days to pay.

Rachel Khona has written for Inked, Ask Men, Treats and Vaga, where she is a contributing editor. When not writing, she can be seen performing some of her work for Inner Monologues, Speakeasy Stories, and Stories from the Creek. She attended Rutgers University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in history, specializing in American pop culture.

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