Here are tips to remember to pay your bills on time

By SUSAN E. COSGROVE,

Paying bills late affects your credit score and also costs you extra in late fees and other penalties. Find the best methods to remember to pay your bills on time.

Get a total picture of your monthly bills. Identify the weeks when you have the most money due. Mississippi State University Extension’s free publication, “Taking Control of Your Money -Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise Financial Education Program Calendar,” P2192, is a payment and buying calendar you can use to fill in your monthly income and estimated expenses.

You can list when your bills are due as you receive them and mark them as they are paid. On the calendar, you list the purchases you make. At the end of each month, record expenses for each category. This publication also has a monthly mini financial education lesson.

Other tips include the following:

• Read your payment instructions. Be sure to make payments in time for processing, not on the due date. Don’t forget to include the account number.

• If you can’t pay the full balance, at least pay the minimum to keep the account in good standing. Try to pay more than the minimum.

• Make arrangements for automatic payments for as many bills as possible. This service is available for most bills, including utilities, credit cards, and more. The accounts are linked to your credit card or checking account, and the bill is automatically paid before or on the due date.

• Batch your bills. Change the due dates for your bills so that they are due on the same day or a range of a few days. That way, you will only have to pay bills once a month, and you won’t run the risk of spending your paycheck and forgetting that the electric bill hasn’t been paid.

• Use online alerts. Financial apps like Mint will alert you to upcoming bill due dates.

It is important to realize that paying off an account that has been reported to the credit bureaus will not remove it from your credit report. It stays on your report for seven years.

Remember that both good and bad credit history count toward calculating your credit score. The longer you build good credit history by paying your bills on time, the better your credit score.

For more information on personal finance , contact Susan Cosgrove, Financial Management Area Extension Agent, at 601-635-7011.