Figuring out how to get a month ahead on bills is not something most people ever consider, but should. It is a fantastic way to ensure that you can cover what is necessary should the unthinkable happen. If you have been struggling to get ahead on your bills, these twelve tips are the perfect place to start!
For a lot of people, getting a month ahead of everything never crosses their minds. It’s actually sad because putting the work in to do so very often leads to being financially comfortable.
I would imagine that these days more and more people are wishing they were financially comfortable; or even something as simple as know how to stop living paycheck to paycheck.
The beauty in learning how to get a month ahead is that it does exactly that. It stops the paycheck to paycheck struggle and sits your family budget upright.
Does Paying Your Bills Ahead Hurt You Financially?
Yes and no. In some cases, such as when you are trying to build credit, it can be helpful to leave a small balance on your account each month. This is known as a revolving balance and can actually help build your credit score.
However, for the most part, paying your bills ahead of time does not do any harm and as I said earlier, can actually help your current financial situation!
What if I have Bills I Can’t Pay Ahead?
Unfortunately, this does happen. I have several this way such as my Amazon Music or those revolving credit card payments I was talking about. These types of bills are usually auto-billed on the same date every month.
In cases like this, what is best is to do one of two things:
Use a separate checking account for these bills and only these bills. I personally use an online Varo account for mine. The only bills that come out of this account are the ones that can not be pre-paid. Chime checking accounts are another great option for this.
The other option you have for this situation is to account for the “spend” on paper and stick to it. Using an account ledger book like THIS one, deduct the money from your checking balance. It will look as if you’ve already paid it on paper and because you accounted for the money in your budget already, but never actually spent it, it will be waiting when the auto charge actually does hit.
Learn to Live on Last Month’s Income
Have you ever heard that phrase before? A lot of folks haven’t. Learning to live on last month’s income is the best way to put yourself in a place where you can pay your bills ahead of time.
But – and this is the kicker – nine times out of ten, in order to live on last month’s income, you have to pay your bills a month ahead.
Seems like a Catch-22 right?
The answer to both sides of it is to get things on track financially and find the money to pay ahead on your bills at the same time.
Let’s look at exactly how to do that.
Create or Update Your Budget
First and foremost, you will need to have an updated budget. If you’re not currently using one, that will mean learning how to create a simple family budget before you can get started. If you are, it will mean updating it so it is current.
Make certain that the budget you create is a zero-based budget. This allows you to know where every penny is going so you are even more on top of things. Trim as much of the fat off your budget as you possibly can before you get started.
Remember, you only have four true needs; food, shelter, clothing and transportation. If you are on life sustaining medicine, that is a fifth need. Anything else you’re spending money on is fat.
These may help:
If your bills are behind, get current on them before you attempt to get a month ahead anywhere else. You can not get ahead anywhere in your budget if you are behind in even a small place.
Let me say that again for the folks in the back. You can not get ahead if you are are still behind.
If the amount of money you are behind is significant, it’s time to negotiate. Call the companies you owe and ask to work out payment plans. Most of the time they would rather work with you than deal with the trouble and expense that unpaid bills and collections create.
Create a Spending Plan
A spending plan is different than your weekly or monthly budget. With those things, you give a total amount of each bill for the specified time period and subtract it from your total income. That’s a very basic explanation but you get the gist.
With a spending plan, you break down each individual paycheck dollar by dollar until you reach zero. You literally give each penny a place to go and you always know where each dollar went.
Tracking your expenses can be a huge help when you’re trying to get a month ahead on your bills. It lets you see at a very quick glance where you’re wasting money and where your budget and spending plan needs adjusted at.
- How to Create a Spending Plan
- Account Ledger Book for Tracking Expenses
- What is a Fixed Expense and Why Should You Make All Your Bills This Way?
One very key aspect to being successful at getting a month ahead of your bills – and staying there – is thinking ahead. Basically, you will need to anticipate any potential spikes that bill may have.
For instance, I know that during summer in Texas, both my water and electric bills are going to rise. My water goes up around $25.00 each month and my electric becomes a very sad state of affairs.
If I don’t account for these changes, I won’t be able to stay on top of things. I may think I am ahead by a month or more, but when it comes time for those higher amounts to bill, I don’t have enough to cover me and as such, I end up back in the month to month cycle. But if I think ahead and use that knowledge, I can plan for those spikes ahead of time and ride them through with no financial damage.
Small Payments Add Up
Just like pennies add up when saving money, small payments will add up when you’re working to get a month ahead of your bills.
Even if you can’t afford to pay an entire month’s extra payment at first, pay what you can. Anything extra paid on your bill each month is a step in the right direction; even if it’s only a $10.00 step.
It may take you longer to get ahead and build a full month’s credit, but you eventually will if you keep at it.
Use Gift Cards to Free Up Cash
Obviously you can’t pay extra on your bills if you don’t have cash available to do so. One very simple way to free up cash is by using gift cards in its place to pay for the things you need.
You can do this a couple of different ways.
When you sign up for an InstaGC account using THIS link, you will earn 10 free points. Once you earn a $1.00 minimum total, you can cash out for an immediate payout!
Join Swagbucks with THIS link and you’ll also score free points! Swagbucks has different gift card options and takes 7-10 days to pay out once you request.
The second way is to use grocery store promotions to buy gift cards. You then take the savings these promos earn you and put it toward a bill.
I explain more about this method HERE in my post teaching how to save money on gasoline.
Don’t Use Credit to Get Ahead
As tempting as it may be, do not use credit cards – or worse, take a loan – to get ahead on your bills.
It may seem like a better option since you would be consolidating your bills into one for a few months, but the high interest rates of most credit cards negates any savings that getting a few months ahead on your bills gives you.
Sell Things You No Longer Need
I would be willing to bet that your home is full of things you no longer need or want. Those items can help you not only get one month ahead, but to get several months ahead of your bills.
It’s easiest to sell things online if you set a daily goal for yourself. List a certain amount of items each day in as many places as possible and pretty soon you’ll be throwing all that extra cash at building credits on your bills!
How to get started:
This is probably going to be hard for you to hear, but when you are actively working to get a month ahead on your bills, your budget can not handle extras.
Instead, cancel anything extra and throw the money you would have paid to your bills. Once you are a month or two ahead, you can decide whether to add them back into your spending plan or not.
Be More Self-Sufficient
One of the best ways to free up money that can be used to get in front of your bills is simply to be self-sufficient. After all, I’ve said it before that being truly frugal means being self-sufficient and it’s true.
When you do more for yourself, you can rely on the grocery store less. This opens up only that you would have otherwise spent. That money can then be used to pay your bills.
These may help:
- Why You Must Be Self-Sufficient to Be Truly Frugal
- DIY Shave Cream
- DIY Body Lotion
- Homemade Shampoo
- Homemade Deodorant
- Homemade Bread
- Homemade Butter
- Homemade Baby Formula
- DIY Reusable Cloth Pads
- Homemade Dryer Sheets
- Homemade Dish Soap
- 52 Things You Can Make to Save Money at the Store
Reuse More to Spend Less
Another way to find the money you will need to get a month ahead on your bills is to reuse more things at home so you’re spending less at the store. It may not seem as if you could save enough money to pay a bill by reusing things, but depending on how much you’re reusing, you absolutely could.
Most people already reuse some things.
Grandma’s sewing box, anyone? No? How about butter bowls with leftovers? These are both great ideas, but upcycling items and finding new ways to use things goes far beyond just those two things.
In fact, you can reuse almost anything.
Here’s a few ideas to get you started:
- New Uses for Old Towels
- New Uses for Bedsheets
- Ways to Use Fels-Naptha Soap that Aren’t Laundry
- Uses for Dawn Dish Soap
- Ways to Use Clean Cat Litter
- Uses for Empty Bottles
- Uses for Empty Milk Jugs
- 52 Things to Reuse at Home
- Ways to Use Coffee Mugs
- Ways to Use Fabric Softener Sheets
- Ways to Use Coffee Filters
Keep At It
Finally, working to get a month ahead on your bills can quickly become tedious and overwhelming; especially if you’re struggling to make due every month.
You will likely want to give up. Don’t allow that to happen. As you start to get on firmer financial ground, it will become easier.
In the end, you will be able to look back and see that all the work you put into it was 100% worth it.