It is important that all areas of our home are as organized as possible. That includes your bills! If you can’t find them, then you can’t pay them. That results in late fees …. or worse!!!
If your routine for handling your mail is to walk through the door and toss it onto the kitchen counter, the table or even shove it into a drawer, then you need to keep reading. I am going to help you create systems that will actually work!
It will require a little bit of effort on your part. So, if you are ready to jump in and make a change, then keep on reading. I’m truly here to help!!!
Note the due date on your calendar. Use your paper or electronic calendar to keep track of your bill. However, rather than jot down the due date, write down the date you need to mail or submit your bill.
The reason is that if you happen to notice it on the day it is due, it is probably too late to pay it and you may already start accruing late charges. If you use an electronic calendar, be sure to set it up to remind you to make the payment. This way, it will pop up on your phone or computer and you will not forget. If you use a paper calendar or day runner, you will notice it when you check your day’s events.
Utilize on-line payments through your bank. This is our favorite way to pay our bills. We save paper, time and money by paying our bills through our bank. In fact, I can’t remember the last time we actually mailed a check.
Each pay period, my husband and I sit down and schedule out all of the bills to be paid during that period of time. We can set up the date they are to be paid so that they are not only paid on time, but we don’t have to remember to drop a check in the mail, nor even tell the bank to make the payment for us!
The only caution I add is to be sure to know how long it takes for your bank to mail any payments that can not be submitted electronically, to allow for time for it to be processed and mailed. For example, my water, bill can’t be paid electronically. My bank has to issue a check on my behalf. As a result, the payment can’t be acted upon for 5 days + mail time. This means that if my bill is due on the 11th, I need to set it up for payment by the 4th, which allows 5 days for processing + 2 days for mailing.
Use a hanging storage box or designated area. Whether you pay your bills yourself or electronically, you need to have a place to store them so that you don’t forget to pay them on time.
One option is a storage box with hanging folders inside. You could use tabs which state: “Bills Due This Week”, “Bills Due Next Week”, etc. Then, as your bills arrive in the mail, place the bill into the appropriate folder. Set aside time each week or other week to pull out the bills due this week and pay them accordingly.
My husband and I use this organizer for our bills. When they come into the house, they go right into the “bills” slot on our door. We don’t worry about them until it is time to sit down and pay them (according to our pay schedule). We never have to worry that we forgot to pay something nor have to wonder where any of our bills may have disappeared to.
Once the current week’s bills have been paid, look at those due next week (just to make sure you did not miss them). Once your bills have been paid, go through the remaining bills in the folders and move them into the correct folder (i.e. take bills in the “Due Next Week” folder and move them into the “Due This Week” folder, etc). By keeping your bills in one central location, you shouldn’t have be searching around to find your bills when it is time to pay them (or forget to pay them).
You may also want to use a small basket and place the bills there. Just make sure that the basket only contains bills so that other items do not get mixed in with them.
Watch your checking account. An organized checkbook saves you money. When you overdraw your account, you must not have had the money to pay the original withdrawal, so how is it that you have money to pay overdraft fees? Simply put – you don’t. In addition, when your check bounces, your payment is considered not received – which means late fees.
Make sure you keep good records by recording every check and debit timely (read – immediately) so that you have an accurate balance at all times. If your bank offers it, sign up for overdraft protection. We all can make mathematical errors, so this gives you coverage should this happen.
If you do find that you forgot to pay a bill, don’t immediately cut a check for the bill + late charges. Take a moment to call and ask the company if they would waive them for you. Advise them that you have never been late in the past and that it was an oversight on your part. They should be able to pull up your account and see that this is true. I have had companies do this for me in the past, with the stipulation that it is a one time service.
Create a Bill Paying Center or Box. Before you sit down to pay bills, you need to make sure you have everything you need such as the checkbook, stamps, pen, computer (as needed) and of course the bills. Make a small box that keeps these items handy so you can pull that out when it is time to pay the bills, or keep them on your desk or central location so that everything you need is there when you sit down to focus on paying your bills.