Congrats! You’ve somehow convinced your parents that you can handle the responsibility of a monthly phone bill.

But, before you start calling all your friends to celebrate, you may want to do some research on what a postpaid bill really means for your financial future.

Especially your credit report.

Suck at doing things on time? Too bad. Maintaining a great credit history has now become extremely important in the financial system in Trinidad and Tobago. According to credit bureau TransUnion, late and delinquent phone bill payments can show up on credit checks. This sends a message to borrowers that you’re terrible at repaying money you owe, on the terms that you agreed to.

Think of it this way: Imagine borrowing $50 from your friend Felicia and promising to repay her next week.

Now imagine what happens when you pay that back two weeks after you said you would. And think of what will happen if you (shudder) never repay her.

You’ll have broken a bond of trust between the two of you, sending a very clear message that you’re in the habit of not repaying money you owe.

If you were Felicia, would you lend you money again? Perhaps you might be hesitant to do so. Maybe you might decline to do so altogether, until you can prove that you’re a (wo)man of your word.

This kind of approach isn’t best if you’re ever interested in making a huge purchase. Someday, you’ll want to buy a house and a car — or maybe you’ll need a loan to finance your education. Banks will need to conduct credit checks to make sure you’re in good standing. If you’re not, you can be denied any credit facility — including credit cards — until you’ve cleared all outstanding balances and have maintained good payment habits over an extended period of time.

Do you really want a pesky delinquent phone bill from high school tanking all your plans? Thought so.

As with any recurrent expenditure, don’t take payment terms lightly. Manage your phone bill by keeping usage to a minimum. Monitor the length of your phone calls. Get a plan at a rate that you’re certain you can pay on time each month, in full. Digicel and bmobile both have SMS bill reminders, to ensure you’ve got the jump on payments every month.

And if you think you can’t manage all this, enjoy having to run to a vendor every time you need a phone card. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

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