When we were kids and aspiring to become rock star adults, no one told us how annoying and pesky medical bills could be. Keeping track of your payments not only gives you peace of mind and ease but also establishes your credit history, making it easier to finance large purchases.
For individuals who want to buy a first-time home, drive a new car, or lease the latest-and-greatest phone, paying your medical bills in a timely manner helps set you up for success later in life. But, the inevitable happens; you miss a payment, and worse, you don’t know how to address the problem moving forward. If this sounds like an all-too-familiar situation, we’ve got you covered!
1. Pay Immediately
The most effective strategy for paying medical bills is — drum roll, please — paying immediately! We know this tip doesn’t sound attractive, but it’s the only way to instill good behaviors moving forward. Rather than eyeball that envelope from across the room, secretly hoping it would burst into flames, grab it, pay it and toss it into the bin. If you ignore all tips going forward but maintain timely bill paying, you’re golden!
2. Reminders and Notifications
Secondly, set up gentle reminders and notifications that alert you before a bill is coming due. You can use post-it notes strategically hung throughout your home or car, or you can use your phone’s internal software to schedule a date.
In this note, be straightforward: “your bill is due 2/14/2022.” When you have a straightforward reminder that cuts to the chase, you’re more likely to act immediately and deliberately. More importantly, you’ll never have to play the “oh no, was that due today?” game with your payments ever again!
3. Utilize Your Calendar
A simple but effective tool for paying on time is using a calendar in your home. Whether you have a whiteboard-based calendar system or a paper product, both will suffice. Take a red marker, find the upcoming due date, circle it, and make red ‘X’ marks on each day leading up to the event. If you use this technique in combination with setting up phone-based notifications, there’s no way you’ll miss paying your upcoming invoice.
4. Reward Yourself for Good Behavior
Humans are, without a doubt, the most complex creatures on the planet, but this does not excuse us from simplistic rewards that stimulate good behaviors. On the contrary, a well-timed treat after performing a productive task not only feels productive, but it builds new neuropathways that encourage habitual routines.
5. Punish Yourself for Missed Payments
Conversely, you must trigger an uncomfortable stimulus when you’ve made an error in your judgment. If you’ve missed a payment, or worse, let it go to collections, a punishment system should be used to encourage timely payments in the future.
Before you pull out a belt and begin to wince, realize that a gentle disciplinary action will suffice. This task could be in the form of not using your phone for the remainder of the day, brushing your teeth an extra time, paying for a friend’s meal, or taking your beloved dog for an extra walk throughout the day. Whatever your punishment is, it needs to be mildly uncomfortable for it to be effective.
6. Paper Checks
In our world of digital consumption, paper checks are still in the fight. For individuals who want to pay their medical bills on time, we encourage you to post-date a paper check, hang it in an easy-to-spot location and mail it before the date, or better, take it to the organization personally. When you regularly see the check hanging in place, you’re more likely to pay your bill before it comes due. And if you don’t, you’re out of a check!
7. Digital Auto-pay
And for the professional procrastinators out there: there’s a solution! Autopayments are the way of the future, and they let you pay your medical bills without scurrying around the home looking for spare change. However, we must warn you: autopayments are not for the faint of heart.
If a bill processes through your profile and insufficient funds are available, you’re going to overdraft your account. Before you know it, these payments can tally into the hundreds of dollars, and the activity you once thought productive quickly turns into a financial battle with the bank.