How would you like a simple solution for paying your bills?
Something so easy you’ll wonder why you haven’t done this already.
It would be awesome! But what keeps you from being organized. . . holding you back from paying your bills in an orderly fashion?
This is where I believe many people go wrong.
I call it “The Wilderness Method of Paying Bills”.
I’ll tell you about it and then give you the 3 solutions you need to get rid of it.
How People Get Lost in the Wilderness When Paying Bills. Do you make these 3 mistakes?
First, what is “The Wilderness Method of Paying Bills” and how do people accidentally stay lost in the wild when it comes to paying their bills? Have you ever remembered that you had to pay a bill but couldn’t find where you put it? Or have you ever paid a bill and then had to double check that you paid it because it didn’t come out of your account yet? . . . Why? You may think, “Well, I’m just not good at this” or “I don’t have time to check this”. So you pay your bills on the fly and you’re just happy you didn’t get a late fee this time. That’s “The Wilderness Method of Paying Bills.”
So what triggers it? How about technology for one. According to Fiserv, between 2000 and 2010, the number of households that use online banking increased more than six fold and the number that use online bill payment increased nearly eight fold. As much as technology has provided an easier way to pay our bills, with the growth of online banking, bill payment and e-bills, it has significantly changed how people pay their bills. I believe it has thrown off former habits and routines for effective, on-time bill payment.
Letting your bills run wild. Failing to have a set location to store and pay the bills.
Solution: When the mail, email or e-bill comes in, immediately put it in one safe location. Make use of an email folder, tray, basket, or organizer to gather up the bills as they come in. As long as you are able to locate them in the same place every time, then it qualifies as the “official new home for the bills.”
If every bill is an e-bill, maybe you can designate a folder within your email. I even think of invitations (wedding, birthday, etc.), kids’ sports forms, musical instrument, or any other paper leading me to spend money as a bill too. That’s why I still think people should have a concrete place to put them.
Certified Financial Planner and US News Columnist, Jason Hull agrees, “I think not having a time or place to pay your bills regularly is the worst mistake. It’s very easy to fall into the habit of opening up a bill and putting it aside, only to discover 6 weeks later that you didn’t pay it. Your Monkey Brain will tell you that the hard work is done – facing up to the bill, and that you don’t have to worry about it, because, after all, there are more fun things to do like go buy a 138″ flat screen TV. If you have a regular time and place to pay all of your bills, and you set an appointment in your calendar, then it’s harder to ignore. The best solution, to me, is to automate as many of your bill payments as possible so that you don’t have to worry about whether or not the bill got paid.”
Circle the location you think is best for paying your bills in the second box.
Store them close to the place where you will pay them. If you pay your bills online, it may make sense to have them near your computer. Once again, I am assuming that you will still get some bills in the mail. I have doctors’ bills that still need a designated location. I personally store my mail in the kitchen in a basket. As soon as the mail comes in, I pop it in the basket. After sorting my mail, if I am not able to pay the bill in that moment, I put it in my folder for the week. I know I will get to it before it is due because the folder system serves as “my calendar and things to do”. I can use my laptop and counter to pay them.
Randomly paying bills like a monkey swinging from vine to vine.
Failing to set a day and time to pay the bills.
Solution: Set a reminder on your calendar to pay the bills. If you have an account with Mint.com it will send you reminders. I pick pay day as the day to do the bills. So every other Friday, I make sure I pay whatever is coming due within the next two weeks. Make sure it is on your calendar as a thing to do. I even sometimes write what is coming due for the next two weeks so I know how much I will need. This helps me stick to my spending plan. Even if you pay bills as soon as they come in, that’s a plan.
Not keeping track keeps you in the wilderness.
Failing to keep track of what was paid.
Solution: Devise a way to keep track of what was paid. Whether you record it with software, an app, a notebook, binder, keep it on a calendar or special place on your phone. Make sure you have a way to quickly reference what has been paid. A list format is easy to view. Once this habit becomes a regular routine, paying the bills will become an ingrained habit like brushing your teeth.
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