Create a list of all your outstanding expenses and debts
If you have to pay for something, make sure that it gets added to this list. Categorize the items where possible (fixed vs. monthly expenses, bi-weekly expenses, and one-time expenses.) Put the most expensive payment at the top and the lowest one on the bottom.
Develop a budget that ensures you can pay these bills and expenses each month
Do you know how much money you make each month? If your expenses add up to more than you’re making, you need to evaluate your spending. Cancel unnecessary subscriptions. Call your cell and landline providers, and ask them to review your current plan to see if there are any new promotions that would lower your bill. Do the same for your cable bill. In other words, do what it takes to save money each month instead of throwing it away on unnecessary expenses.
Determine due dates as soon as bills arrive
Do NOT file bills away “for later!” – especially not until you’ve read and examined the due date. Instead, do this:
- Open bills immediately upon receipt
- Determine the due date
- Circle the due date so it’s easy to find later, and
- Do a quick check to see if the charges look correct.
Secure a designated place for incoming bills
As soon as you open your mail, place all bills in a location you’ve designated for bills only. This eliminates the possibility that the bills get lost before you pay them. Don’t forget that late payment may result in late fees or extra interest you can easily avoid. You can also sign up for paperless statements. Caution: If you decide to go the paperless route, be sure to download and review the statements monthly and file them in a folder on your desktop or in the cloud. It is of utmost importance that you have an organized digital filing system in place. You will understand the importance when you need to retrieve a statement. Depending on your comfort level with technology, consider using FileThis software that allows you to link your online accounts to automatically fetch all of your online statements in PDF format.
Set up a routine
There are a few payment options from which to pick. You can:
- Pay all of your bills with paper (i.e., checks and envelopes)
- Integrate your bills with electronic banking for a seamless process
- Use both e-banking and paper (so most of your bills are handled online while you make some payments, such as income taxes, with traditional checks)
Some people review and pay any bills as soon as they receive them in the mail. Others prefer to create a standing appointment of an hour or two on a specific day to handle the task. To ensure the payments are always processed and received before their due dates, figure out what works for you. Then, stick with it.
Keep all bill paying statements and supplies you need nearby so you can handle the job efficiently.
Remember: there is some lag time from when you send a payment to when it’s received by the person or company you owe. Not scheduling your bills on time has the potential to affect your credit rating in a profound way.
Use financial software to keep track of bill paying
Financial software from Quicken, Mint and your bank’s proprietary software helps organize your bills and payments. These systems also help you set realistic budgets and help track spending to reach your financial goals.