smart spending

What you need to know about paying bills

Here's a tip for boosting your mood: Research shows that the way you pay your bills can have an impact on your happiness. For optimal results -- and minimal late fees -- follow Money Rule No. 38: Pay Bills As They Come In.

I'm Jean Chatzky, and this is Money Rules.

Don't get me wrong: Paying bills is never going to be a joy. But there are several reasons why it pays, literally, to take care of bills as they land in your mailbox rather than tackling them all once a month. Here are three:

You don't have to watch the money drain out of your account in a single day. That experience can be demoralizing. Taking it bit by bit doesn't sting quite as much.

You can budget for larger-than-average expenses. Get a big heating bill at the start of the month? By paying it first, you can adjust your spending in the following weeks to compensate.

You'll avoid late fees. We've all slipped up for one reason or another. If you pay your bills as they come in, you eliminate the risk of being late, which can cost you money and damage your credit score.

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