Paying bills is a task most people despise. Besides the too often experience of not having enough money to cover all your expenses, paying the monthly bills takes organization, determination and persistence. Every month they come back once more. It is ongoing and tedious.
Paying bills may never be a pleasant task, however, the following are tips to make this process a little easier. Although all of the tips will not be appropriate for your situation, implementing even one or two suggestions might make the monthly project a little more bearable.
- Assign one person to take care of the finances. It can cause great confusion (and maybe a few bounced checks) when two people are writing out checks and may forget to share information with the other person. Having just one person in charge can eliminate this. If this is a job both of you dread, instead of one person always being responsible, take turns. One can be responsible from January until June, the other from July to December.
- Have a specific place in your house to put all incoming bills. Clearly label this “Bills to be paid.” Let everyone know all bills should go directly in the basket or bin. For bills that provide you with a coupon book, tear out the coupon you are paying, when you are paying it and leave the coupon book in the basket or bin. If you prefer, many companies will now send email bills rather than paper bills. These may be more difficult to lose or misplace.
- Use an accordion file to place the bills you have paid. You can file by month, placing all bills paid during the month in one file or if you prefer, file by company or category of bill. As you pay each bill, note your check number and the date you mailed the payment on the bill. Make a separate file for any bills that you can deduct from your income taxes (medical bills, real estate taxes) so they are easy to find when tax time comes around.
- Use your day planner, pda or calendar to mark days bills must be paid as a reminder.
- Set aside a specific time each month to pay your bills. Keeping a routine will help you to stay on track.
- Complete a monthly budget to determine how much money you have and where you may need to save or change your spending habits.
- Review bills to make sure they are accurate.
- Use an online bill paying service. Often your bank provides these. You can input your information and bills can be paid automatically. Even if you don’t want to have the money automatically withdrawn every month on the same day, you can input the information on the bill just once and each month can determine which day the money should be withdrawn. This can help to avoid late fees.
- Pay your bills according to your pay schedule rather than monthly.
- If you consistently pay late fees or are always receiving shut off notices because of forgetting to pay bills, consider having a bookkeeper complete this job for you. The money you save from late fees may more than cover the amount charged by a personal bookkeeper.
No matter how you set up your monthly bills, be sure to share your system with your partner or another responsible adult that can take over and complete the job in the case of an emergency.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.