Paying bills is something that we never thought about as children when we wished to grow up. It goes along the line of dealing with taxes and cooking your own meals. The great part is that even though bills are a necessity for adult life, there are many ways that we can make this chore easier on ourselves.
Here are 7 ways to simplify bill paying within your home.
1. Make a Date with Your Bills
Whether you get paid weekly, biweekly or monthly, you need to have a set day and time that you will dedicate to paying your bills. Just like your significant other, bills deserve your undivided attention, but unlike your significant other, that time can be as little as 15 minutes. During this time, make sure you are in a quiet place where you can concentrate and won’t miss a bill payment.
Tip: Spend minimum time with maximum concentration on paying bills.
2. Automate It
In the world of technology, finances can easily be managed through an app, computer program, or simply through a note or two saved on your smartphone. Websites like mint.com are perfect for those of us that need to see our finances all in one place. These financial organizational tools make it easier to see which bills can be automated and the program reminds you when bills are due.
Lower bills, like debt payments around $100, can and should be automated. If a bill has been constant throughout the year, set up automated payments through your bank or credit union. For larger bills or bills that may have hidden fees or fluctuations (like cell phone and cable bills), I suggest getting your own eyes on that bill every month.
Tip: Set up automatic bill payment for bills that are less than $100.
3. Pay Everything Once
Yes, you can pay every bill at the same time, even if you are on a budget. While you have the option of automating small bills, you can also choose to pay them off once a year. Utility bills, membership fees, and insurance bills can all be paid on a yearly basis.
If you choose to go this route, make your payment when you get a bonus or extra money, like your tax refund. Be sure to ask if there are discounts for paying a bill up-front. Insurance companies often offer money back if you pay in advance, so take advantage.
Tip: Pay insurance and utility bills annually to save money.
4. Change Your Due Date
It is more difficult to stay on track with bill paying when your bills are due on different days during the month. The easiest way to remedy this is to call the companies and ask for your due dates to be changed. Try to switch them to days when you know you will have enough funds to pay the bills.
Tip: Pick 2 days each month and schedule your bills to be paid on those days.
5. Pay Yourself First
This is the most important bill that you pay each month. Why is this essential for the payment of all of your other bills? It gives you motivation to not only make more money, but to pay down bills and debt in order to pay yourself more. This bill should be paid first and put directly into a savings account, whether it’s for fun money or your emergency fund.
Tip: Designate money to be deposited into your savings account monthly.
6. Mark Your Bills as Paid
Just like paying yourself first works as a motivation, marking your bills as paid can cause you to keep your bill paying less stressful and as simple as possible. By marking these paid, whether it’s writing it in red marker on a paper bill or typing “paid” next to the bill on a computer program, you’ll ensure that you don’t pay a bill twice and that you are making progress in your efforts.
Tip: Use a red marker to write “PAID” on each bill.
7. Tailor Your Bill-Paying System
You can take all of the advice listed above, but you still have to tailored it to your own personality. Do you love lists? Are you into calendars? Do you do better when EVERYTHING is computer-based? Pick what you gravitate to and stick to it.
For our family, we are online and paper calendar people. We use Google calendar with alerts so that my husband and I both know when a bill is due. But we also use a paper calendar during our bill-paying “dates.” For us, it helps to see the date the bill is due and the paper bill, as well as on a computer screen.
Tip: Find a bill-paying system that works for you.