Create a Bill File. One of simplest ways to avoid additional costs is to pay your bills timely. If you create a bills file and place all of your bills in there as they arrive, you will have them all in one place when you sit down to write your checks. You shouldn’t’t have to ever worry about not finding it or accidentally tossing it in the trash. Our family has a drawer in our desk. All bills go in there until they are to be paid. We never lose them and can find them in a moment’s notice.
Checks and Balances. This may sound silly, but take a couple of minutes and make sure that the payment that was applied to your account from the previous month, is actually the same as the amount you paid. Also be sure it was posted to your account within a timely manner from the time you mailed the check. Sometimes, late fees can incur due to a late arrival of your payment. If you have credit card statements, always review the charges to be sure that you agree with them. Two minutes now, can save a lot of headache down the road.
Also be sure to reconcile your checking account regularly. Having one missed entry could result in an overdraft fee to not only your bank, but also to the institution where you issued the check. If you didn’t have the money for the check you wrote – chances are you don’t have an extra $50 – $75 on top of that to cover these fees. Although I reconcile, I also always have an overdraft system in place just in case I make an error. Mine is attached to my savings account. Check with your bank to see what programs or services they offer to help cover you, should this happen.
Use Your Envelope System. I know I talk about the envelope system for cash. However, this envelope system is for receipts. Make an envelope for each of the retailers where you shop and then some for incidental receipts you might have. For example, I have these envelopes:
This way, if I have a problem with an item, I can easily find the receipt I am looking for so that I can return the item. If you don’t have a receipt, some stores will not take the item back. Others will issue store credit – – but for the lowest price of that item over the past 30 days – – making you end up in the red after your return.
Keep Track of Mail in Rebates. I love rebates. They really are a great way to get cash back on the things you buy anyway. Be sure that before you drop them in the mail that you make a complete copy of EVERYTHING and slide that into a folder. Then, when you receive your rebate, you can pull the forms out and discard them.
Invest in a Shredder. With Identity Theft on the rise, a shredder is almost a must anymore. You can pick up a small one relatively inexpensively at most retailers. When you get those credit card applications in the mail, or your bank statements, you should never toss them into the trash. These items must be shredded in order to protect your personal information. Dealing with a stolen identity can cost you more than money – it can cost you time away from the things and people you love.
These are systems my family uses and they really do help us stay on top of everything. Our bills are always paid on time. We can easily find anything we need at the drop of the hat. By implementing these few simple changes into your own life, hopefully you’ll feel a little less stress.