Near the top of my list of things that I will never pay for is late fees. OK…I am not including library late fees in this category. I will pay the occasional quarter so I can finish a book.
It does not make sense to me to have to pay additional money because I forgot or because I was disorganized.
With the amount of mail and e-mail we all have coming our way, it could be easy to misplace a bill. With a packed calendar, it could be easy to have bill paying be pushed to the side. Setting up a bill paying system that works for you can eliminate forgotten bills and late payments.
One single system will not work for everyone. I will share my quick and simple system and then give you a few suggestions in figuring out the flow that works for you. There will even be a few printables to help you organize your bill paying life!
When a bill enters our home, I immediately do one of two things with it.
- I open the bill, go online to pay it, and then file the bill. If it is an automatic payment, I just record and file. It just takes a few minutes and it’s done. Touching the bill once is quick and efficient. There is no chance of missing the payment if I paid the bill the minute I received it! If you have a paperless home, you would have to add scanning the bill in as your last step.
- If I decide not to pay the bill right then and there, I do not just throw the bill in a pile on the kitchen table. I fear that I would miss the due date or lose the bill if I did not have a specific place for all bills. I simply check the due date on the bill, write a note on my calendar (I use the Tools4Wisdom Planner) a few days before the due date and then place on my desk in the “To Pay” file. As the due date approaches, I see on my calendar that I have a bill due and pay it when I have the time.
Here are a few tips to remember when making sure you pay your bills on time.
- Have one designated area for all the “To Pay” bills – an accordion file, folder, 3-ring binder.
- Don’t be afraid to play around with your payment dates. We had our mortgage and our credit card payment due around the same day each month. I called to have our credit card payment date switched so we now have our two largest payments evenly spread throughout the month. Or maybe you prefer to have your bills all due around the same time of the month for ease. Note that you will not be able to do this for all your bills, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
- If you have multiple credit card payments to keep track of, consider simplifying and cut back on the number of credit cards you use. If you have different credit cards due to the various reward programs, but have trouble keeping track of paying your bills on time, then you need to rethink the number of credit cards you have. A late fee could quickly wipe out any rewards earned.
- Communicate! If bill paying is not a shared responsibility, keep the non-bill paying member in the loop. While I am responsible for paying the bills in our home (because I enjoy it!), my husband and I sit down and I go through our finances regularly so he knows what is going on and he could take over the bill paying if necessary.
- Have a system to keep track of automatic payments. (Printables below!) Do you live by a home organization binder and want to pull bill paying into your organizational system? I have created a few free printables for you to use.
My system is quick and simple. It works for me. How do you keep your bills organized and paid on time?
Do you need to establish financial goals, develop a budget and stick to it, kill off debt, and get clear on what your financial picture looks like? Check out the Real Life Money Plan eCourse by Jessi at jessifearon.com.