With each new year, while I do not make resolutions, I do examine my goals and that involves a look at our budget. It helps me to see where I stand with my goals and to visualize where we are financially, compared to the previous year. Now, budgeting is not nearly as fun as spending is, but it is more important if you want to save.
Today, I am sharing my method of bill paying which only takes a few minutes each month.
- Get Rid of Excess Paper - I open the bills when I receive them. If there is a discrepancy or something strange going on, I want to know right away. A quick glance at a bill and then I put it in a safe place in my kitchen. As I put the bill away, I keep the bills in the order of due date, with the most urgent in front. I toss out all the additional advertisement mailings that come with the bill into the recycling bin, so I do not have to touch those papers again.
- Set Reminder - I have a reminder set up on my phone to pay bills for the month. This way, just because I put the bills away, I will not forget about them, even if I want to. I pay bills twice a month because that is how we best manage the payments. Most bills I pay online and others get paid by check. By scheduling a reminder, it avoids me having to incur a late payment.
- Paying On Time - On the day I pay the majority of my bills, I go online to use my bank's online service. If you have not tried online banking yet, let me tell you that it really saves time and keeps a record of your payments very accessible. You can schedule bills in advance so that you do not incur a late charge. If your bank does not offer online bill paying, many utility and department store companies do. I still pay some bills by check because the payee does not have online banking set up and some bills (like tax bills), I like to keep a photo record of the cancelled check. When I pay a bill, I stamp it with a paid stamp. There is just something satisfying about stamping that bill (some with more force than others) and seeing the word "paid". Of course you could have a stamp made up saying something else fun to get some joy out of it. (I'll leave you to your creativity here.)
- File - I file the current month's paid bills in the Current Bills section of my household binder. I do not separate them by company, because I have a record of paid bills online. I used to keep all the old bills in files, but that quickly became clutter. By the way, I keep stamps in this binder for the bills I mail so that they are handy.
- Save - this when I move money into my savings. I feel is the best time to move the money and treat it like it is another bill. Even if it is not as much as I would like, it is the perfect time to add to savings.
- Review - Now, it is easy to stop here, but there is one more step that I take about every six months. I review the bills we paid for the previous months to look for spikes and to reevaluate what is being spent. Some companies will add little charges. Be sure to review all your charges and determine if you can eliminate them or the bill altogether.
Now bill paying is personal and this is just the way that works for me. Do you do something different or similar? If you had a stamp, what would you have written on it as you paid the bills (keep it family friendly please)? I'm linking this up at designdininganddiapers.