By Susan M. Keenan …©2010

Whether you are chronically late paying your bills because you are a procrastinator or you are simply waiting for a paycheck, those late fees that you get charged as a result can really add up. It is easy to let a bill go and miss the deadline too. Some credit card companies change the date your bill is due, supposedly to provide better service, but it feels like it is just to mess up the consumer’s bookkeeping strategy. Even utility companies and other service providers change due dates every once in a while as they revamp their billing systems.

Along with the possibility that you might feel unhappy with yourself because you have paid a bill late, you are probably even more disappointed over the late fee that attaches itself to your next month’s bill. Plus, almost every bill payment that you have carries with it the potential to slap on a late fee if you miss the payment deadline. That can add up to quite a hefty sum if you pay several of these bills late.

Each company determines how much it is going to charge for a late fee. If you want to know what to expect, it is important to contact the company or read the fine print in the documentation that you received for the account. This way, if you honestly need to make a bill payment late, you can choose the one that has the smallest bite, saving your self anywhere from five to twenty or more dollars.

Some creditors and service providers charge a percentage of the amount due as the late fee while others charge a flat fee. Even installment loans, student loans, and home loans charge late fees. With a home loan or mortgage, the consumer usually has a grace period of ten to fifteen days past the due date before the late fee kicks in. Most other providers charge the late fee if you miss your payment deadline by a single day.

If you have noticed that you are chronically late paying your bills, you might have the option to set up an automatic payment on some of them. In some cases, the automatic payment can be scheduled to withdraw the money from your checking account in which case, you would need to maintain a sufficient balance in the account. In other cases, you should be able to set up a recurring payment via your credit card. Choose whatever works for you and start avoiding those late fees that keep eating up your hard-earned cash.

Intro: If you pay your bills late, you are probably getting hit with quite a few late fees. Maybe it is time to sign up for automatic payments and get yourself out of a vicious cycle of increasing debt.