Important Routines and Habits for Paying Your Bills
Disorganized people will tell you that it has its price. They waste time looking for things, they frequently repurchase items because they can’t find the original, and they spend hundreds of dollars each year on late fees when paying bills late. The latter can be a big contributor to having a lower credit scores as well.
It doesn’t matter how much money you make or the type of job you hold, if you don’t have a system for paying your bills each month, things can easily slip through the cracks and get overlooked.
One of my favorite definitions of what it means to be organized is:
You get everything done when it’s due.
You find everything you need when you need it.
When we have the right tools to do a job, it’s so much easier getting a task started and eventually completing it. In today’s electronic age, paying bills has never been so easy or streamlined. Gone are the days of sitting at the kitchen table, writing checks, licking envelopes and stamps and walking them to the mailbox. Computers and the Internet have literally transformed the way we now manage our money and pay our bills. Follow these suggested tips when paying electronically:
- As bills arrive, either via snail mail or email, file them until it’s time to pay. Putting them in the same place (or folder) every time ensures against losing them or overlooking them.
- Use secure passwords and store them in a safe place. Better known online programs for saving passwords include: Dashlane(Opens a new window), LastPass(Opens a new window), RoboForm(Opens a new window).
- Shred paper bills once they are paid. Identity thieves simply need your name and address in order to wreak havoc so destroy all documents with your personal information on them.
- If you feel it’s necessary to keep a paid bill, consider scanning it and storing it electronically versus a filing cabinet. I like TurboScan(Opens a new window), a great app which makes scanning easy. My favorite feature is it turns each scan into a .pdf and allows me to send, share or file it away.
- If you still keep a check register even though you’re paying electronically, be sure to record payments as you make them.
If you want to save a significant amount of time in the bill-paying process, consider signing up for Automatic Bill Pay. This is where your bill is automatically withdrawn from your checking account. You’ll receive a notification via either email or snail mail as to when it will be withdrawn so you’ll have plenty of time to make sure the correct funds are in your account. Between utility, cable, mortgage and insurance companies, I currently have over 80 payments automatically paid each year. That’s a lot of time (and paper) saved.
If you write checks to pay your bills, chances are you have a routine of sitting in the same place each time to pay your bills. Whether it’s at the kitchen table, a desk or even the family room, keep the following supplies in a zippered pouch or small container close by:
- Return address labels
- Checkbook and register
- Paper clips
Consistency in how you pay your bills will help you develop a routine around this all-important monthly task. No one likes headaches or hassles related to bill paying so getting organized in this area will save you time, stress and unnecessary worry.