Tips to Organize and Simplify Bill Paying
by Maria Gracia
- Keep your pending bills together, in one designated area. As soon as your mail arrives, or at your designated mail sorting time, sort through the mail, separating your pending bills from all of your other mail. When done sorting, immediately place your pending bills in an envelope, pocket folder or Pending Bills basket.
- Do not separate each pending bill into a separate folder. Whatever you do, don't put your utility bill in one folder, your car insurance bill in another folder and your membership dues bill in another. All pending bills should be together in an envelope, pocket folder or basket so they can be paid without having to search 10 different places to find them.
- Designate 2 to 4 regular days per month to pay your bills. Ninety-nine percent of the time, you don't have to drop everything you're doing when you get a bill in the mail to pay it immediately. Designate 2 to 4 days per month and do all of your bill paying on those days.
My husband and I pay our bills on the 8th and 22nd of each month. You may do the same, or perhaps you might want to pay any pending bills one day per week, such as, every Friday.
- Pay your bills in one place and keep all of your bill paying supplies together. In order to speed up your bill paying efforts, always pay your bills in one place, whether that place be your desk, the kitchen table, etc. Wherever it is, this area should be equipped with your bills, checkbook, envelopes, stamps, pens, pencils, a calculator, tape, a stapler and return address labels. If you don't have drawers to keep your supplies in, get yourself a small plastic box, or even a shoe box, and keep everything inside.
- Immediately record your paid bills. As soon as you pay each bill, immediately record the payment in your check register or computer software register. Don't wait until later because if you do, there's a good chance you will forget. And once you forget, you'll have to waste time and money later dealing with overdrawn account fees.
- Place paid invoices / receipts into a bill paying pocket folder book or categorized file folders. Once you pay your bills, mark your copy or section of the invoice with the Date Paid, Check Number and Amount Paid. Then, file each into the appropriate pocket of your Bill Paying Folder-- with one pocket for each; i.e. Utilities, Insurance, MasterCard, Visa, etc.) or into categorized folders in your filing cabinet.
- Organize your cancelled checks and checking account statements. Every month you will receive checking account statement(s), and possibly cancelled checks, from your bank. Immediately place them in a folder until your designated monthly date rolls around to reconcile your checking account. Then, keep your statements and cancelled checks all together in a folder for the year. You may need to retrieve them later for your accountant when tax season rolls around.
By the way, any bank statements and/or cancelled checks more than a year old can be stored away in a different area than your current files. You may also consider checking with your accountant to determine how long he or she suggests you need to keep this information.
- Condense your credit cards. The more credit cards you have, the more difficult it is going to be to keep them organized, and the longer it's going to take you to pay your bills. Whenever possible, condense your many credit cards into 2 or 3 credit cards, and get rid of the rest.
- Prepare envelopes for recurring bills beforehand. For recurring bills, such as mortgage, rent or loan payments, you'll save a lot of time preparing a bunch of envelopes for each beforehand. For example, let's say you have to pay the rent each month. Make a year's worth of envelopes out with your landlord's name and mailing address, your return address and a stamp. This way, everything will be all set to go each month. You just write out a check, place it in the prepared envelope and mail.
- Simplify even more with inexpensive money management software. If you're paying your bills manually, you may consider purchasing inexpensive, money management software. My husband and I use Quicken. It's a breeze to set up and reduces the time it takes us to pay our bills by more than 50%. Plus, it's a great time saver at tax time because it will automatically organize all of your income and expenses, with a print-out, ready for your accountant.
Are you heading for debt trouble? This simple checklist can help you.
Maria Gracia provides more organization ideas at Get Organized Now! FREE Idea-Pak and E-zine filled with tips, ideas, articles and more to help you organize your home, your office and your life at the Get Organized Now! Web site. getorganizednow.com
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