It’s finally time for your long-awaited trip. Your bags are packed, the lights are on timers and the pet sitter is booked. But what about your bills?
When you’re getting ready to travel, monthly bills may be the last thing on your mind. But making sure payments will be taken care of — especially if you’ll be away more than just a few days — is important.
We’ve rounded up some easy ways to enjoy time away without getting behind on monthly expenses.
Map it out
You don’t want any surprises (like late fees!) while traveling. You also don’t want to come home to an important utility shut off. Avoid unwelcome surprises by mapping out your monthly bills and noting when each one is due. A simple spreadsheet, or even a handwritten list, is a great way to do this. With your bills organized, you’re ready to decide how you’d like to pay them while you’re gone.
Autopay is the ultimate “set it and forget it” bill-paying option. If you plan to travel internationally or somewhere with limited internet access, just link your bank account to your bills and choose the withdrawal date. (Just be sure you have enough funds to cover the withdrawals and they happen on or before your due date.) You may like it so much that you’ll keep it year-round!
It may not be something you usually do, but prepaying your bills is a convenient option for travelers. For some bills, such as loans (including mortgages) and credit cards, it’s important to call your financial institution to ensure your prepayment is applied to monthly interest charges instead of just principal.
Sometimes prepayment and/or autopay may not be an option. In these cases, call your service provider or financial institution to see if you’re eligible for a bill extension. Even if you’ve received extensions in the past, you may be able to get another. It never hurts to ask!
Apps and calendar reminders
Mobile apps like Prism and Mint are a fantastic and surprisingly easy way to stay on top of your bills while traveling and throughout the year. Most let you set reminders and pay financial institutions and service providers directly from the app instead of logging into multiple accounts. If you’d rather use your phone’s calendar, break out your bill spreadsheet, enter due dates and set reminders. You can program them a week in advance, a few days or the day they’re due — whatever works best for you.
Extended travel tips
If you’re traveling for an extended period of time, have your local post office hold or forward your mail.
Consider suspending home-based services, such as cable, internet and landline(s).
Remember to regularly check email and voicemail.
You’re good to go!
With a little planning and some basic technology, paying bills while you’re traveling is a cinch. You even may discover that your new, travel-ready system will help keep your finances more organized when you’re home as well. Bon voyage!