Due to some semi-recent and awesome to hear feedback I'm going to try restarting my Scotch Nature series. Now the disclaimer these bits of advice are not for people who have their financial act even halfway together this is advice for people who are part of the 49% of Americans who would have to go into more debt to cover a $400 emergency expense.
The average late fee for a Credit card in America is $34.09 the average late fee for rent is 3% to 5% late fees are the classic example of digging yourself in deeper, and do go using that "complementary overdraft check protection" because that runs between $30 and $50 a time.
So how do we avoid adding injury of late fees to the injury of bills or debt payments?
For starters we need to budget, I know some people reading this just froze like a deer in the headlights. But let me give you a couple of links to take the brain lock down a notch.
"Feed the Pig" by the AICPA has one.
So does Financial Peace University.
You CAN do this and you'll find that your money will go farther than you would think even as you start writing this down.
This is important because you need to get ahead of this curve so that bills are paid when they come in instead of "after I get paid". Because not only Murphy's Law happen to your money between then and now if you are living paycheck to paycheck, but there's also ample opportunity to misremember or just plain forget what is and isn't paid until next month's bill comes in with both balances AND a late fee.
On a side note if merely being forgetful or disorganized is causing you to pay late fees nearly everything nowadays can be auto drafted so sign up and start wondering why you have an extra $30 a month more than you used to when you'd lose just one bill a month behind the couch.
We all hate paying bills, but you know what sucks more PAYING EXTRA BILLS for no extra services beyond paying it later.
Paying bills in a timely manner can and will build a momentum of it's own just as failing to pay them in a timely manner does. One day you'll get the electric bill in and dash off the check without thinking about it. Because you are no longer insecure that it will clear if not sent at exactly the right time, and believe me that's a wonderful feeling to have.
Edit: BTW if you average just one $30 bounced check protection fee or late fee per month that's $360 over the course of a year. So in one year of being more careful with payments you could be most of the way to not being one of those people who would have to go into further debt if a $400 emergency came up.