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When you sit down to pay your bills each month or annually, do you consider your association dues a low priority? If so, think again.

According to the National Consumer Law Center’s (NCLC) Guide to Surviving Debt (, “Community Association dues and other fees…should be considered a top priority.” In fact, NCLC considers community association dues and other fees in the same category as mortgage payments and real estate taxes—a category ranked second only to feeding your family—according to the Guide’s “Sixteen Rules about Which Debts to Pay First.”

Collected dues pay for services like building maintenance, snow removal, and cleaning that you would pay no matter where you lived—either as direct out-of-pocket expenses or indirectly in a higher rent payment as a rental or higher dues payment as a homeowner. But the association has the collective buying power, so when all services and utilities for everyone in a Condo community are passed along to you as a monthly assessment, or when an HOA community has common areas to maintain, you’re actually getting a bargain.

So, next time you get out your checkbook or set up your bill pay, remember to put your assessment near the top of that stack of bills. You’ll be glad you did.

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