The credit card trick that can help you budget

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Between paying rent, car insurance, student loans and credit card bills each month, plus (hopefully) finding leftover funds for groceries and nights out with friends, there’s a lot to factor in a monthly budget.

While you often can’t change when you’ll see that glorious direct deposit hit your account, there is one change you can make to your budget — when your credit card bill is due. This simple trick can reduce the likelihood of having to pay multiple big ticket items at once.

Changing Your Payment Due Date

Changing your statement closing date, which in turn changes your payment due date, is fairly easy to do. Call the number on the back of your credit card and discuss a new date with an agent. Find out any “good standing” limitations the company may have — some credit card companies won’t change the date if you’re already more than 30 days past due on a payment. If the credit card company won’t let you set a new due date for some reason, consider setting up your own deadline to send the payment instead of waiting for the statement to arrive. (Make sure you are still aware of when the billing cycle closes so you don’t miss a payment, as this could negatively impact your credit score.)

Before you call, establish what time is best to make these card payments. Consider when you get paid each month and when other bills are due. You can choose dates that reduce the likelihood of having all your highest payments due at the same time, as well as what dates will increase your likelihood of being able to pay off your credit card statement each month (or at least some of it). Keep in mind, it may take a couple billing cycles for the change to go into effect.

Even with this budget trick in mind, it’s never a good idea to rack up excessive amounts of credit card debt. You may not have to pay the entire amount of your credit card statement each month, as you do with a student loan or mortgage, but doing so can have positive effects on your credit score. Moving the date of when your payment is due may give the flexibility you need to pay off your credit card each month, so avoid using this as an opportunity to spend more.

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