Your biggest money mistakes -- and how to avoid them

Making late payments

If you ignore the due date on your bills, you'll get hit with late fees. When it comes to your credit card bill, a late payment will lead to a penalty and additional interest fees. But it’s not just the out-of-pocket expenses that are a problem.

"If you skip an entire (billing) cycle, your credit card company will report the delinquency to the credit bureaus, which will hurt your rating," says Erica Sandberg, personal finance expert and editor at large for

In 2009, almost 34 million Americans were late making credit card payments, according to research conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. With the average late fees topping out at $39, penalty fees exceeded $20.5 billion.

Smart move: Get organized.

"Most people pay late because they are out of touch with their finances," Sandberg says. "Make money and credit management part of your daily routine: Wake up, brush your teeth, hit the computer and (check) your account statements."

To ensure your bills are paid on time, create calendar reminders or set up automatic payment options through your bank.

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