Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tips for Paying Bills

How do you deal with bills? Do you have a bill-paying system? I've found a few things that work for me.

Catch the paper at the door. 

First, how do the bills come in your house? Are they ever buried under mountains and mountains of junk? Your first step is to conquer the paper golem (that paper monster that wants to take over your house). I find that if I quickly sort my mail before I even walk in the front door that cuts down on the bulk of junk mail. I remove the junk and put it in the recycling container on the side of my house before coming inside. I then put magazines in the magazine place, bills and action items in the action place, and everything else in the "everything else" place. If possible, I try to take action right away (see the "manual" section below) on those action items. Making this part of my coming home, autopilot routine is super helpful for me.

Bills can be separated into two categories: auto-pay and manual-pay.


  1. Make a list of all your regular bills and the due dates. It might be helpful to look at at list of transactions with your bank from the past few months to get a good idea of all the bills.
  2. If you haven't set up every bill possible to be on auto-pay, do it right now! This will save so much grief for anyone who struggles to regularly pay bills manually. Sign up for online accounts with each company when possible or set up bill-paying through your bank.
  3. Choose for your auto-pay bills to be drafted from your account right after your paycheck is deposited into your account. 
  4. Go back to your list of bills on auto-pay and record the dates each bill is drafted. List all your auto-pay bills together, organized by draft-date. This will be a very handy list. 

Your list should look something like this:
If you want to take it one step further, you can add 12 more columns to your list, either recording the amounts or whether they've been drafted/paid each month. This can be a helpful tool for budgeting (and figuring out how much money you will have in your bank account).


For those bills not on auto-pay, the pesky ones that are easy to forget, I find it easiest to follow this method. First, the moment a bill arrives, write a check, address the envelope, put a stamp on it, *WRITE THE AMOUNT OF THE CHECK ON THE FRONT*,  and seal it. (Look at the first picture for an example.) Keep this stack of bills somewhere where you will not forget them--taped to the front door, on the fridge, next to your bathroom mirror, in your purse, or anywhere you possibly can't miss them. Deposit them in the mail the minute you know you have funds in your account.

What helps you keep track of bills and pay them on time when you're juggling paychecks? Please leave a comment with your pointers!

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