Strategies to minimize late fees

August 11, 2009 8:08:21 AM PDT
Late fees can mount quickly and add to the stress of making ends meet. Good Housekeeping has some strategies to minimize or even eliminate late fees.

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Paying your bills late not only means having to pay out extra cash, but it can also cause your interest rates to rise. One strategy to avoid them is to organize your cash flow around due dates.

"If your check arrives just a day or two after that deadline, you will get hit with a late fee," said Good Housekeeping's Janet Siroto.

Organize and file your bills by due dates to help you remember to pay and mail on time. Consider asking your creditor to permanently change a due date to avoid having to pay all your monthly bills at the same time.

"Talk to your lenders about changing your due dates and ask them to move it from say the 10th of the month to the 30th of the month to better accommodate your cash flow needs," said Siroto.

You can also save money by converting your mortgage from monthly payments to biweekly payments. This might trigger a one-time fee, but over the long run, you'll pay less interest.

"Over the course of a 30 year $100,000 loan at five percent you would actually save $17,000," said Siroto.

Finally pay your bills online. This not only saves the cost of a stamp, but could give you an extra day or two to get your payments in on time.

The average late fee charged by credit card companies is $39. So paying your bills on time can save you plenty.

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