My least fave adult activity: bill paying

Dear Home-Ec 101,

Help! I need a system for bills. I need to get them paid on time and not lose them once they enter my home!

Signed,

In the dark

WinkIvy says:

Paying bills is a pain in the behind, but it’s even worse if you don’t have a good system. For years, there wasn’t enough money to pay my bills and no method to the madness, so it was a total nightmare every single month. Finally I started making enough money to not want to avoid my bills so badly, and devised a system.

First thing you need to do is take a look at how your pay periods work. If you get paid weekly, you’ll need 4 folders- biweekly, 2 folders, and monthly, one folder. Hopefully you can kind of gauge how much you are going to be making each paycheck. If you work on commission or have totally irregular pay, this system might not be for you.

Now, I get paid a larger amount at the beginning of the month and a smaller amount toward the end of the month, so I have determined that I will pay my house payment, car payment, and insurance at the beginning of the month and my other bills at the end of the month. I always make sure, when budgeting, to leave myself enough money to buy groceries with each paycheck- I use a set amount and stick to it.

When I receive each bill in the mail, I put the bill in the appropriate folder. Then, the Sunday after paychecks come in, I sit down and pay bills. If I do literally nothing else on Sunday, this gets done. I use my bank’s online bill pay to make things even faster and easier. I can finish paying all my bills in about 20 minutes or less using online bill pay.

Once I have paid the bill with online bill pay, I write the amount I paid and the date on each bill and then sort the paid bills to my monthly paid bills folders I keep. I keep paid bills on hand for about 6 months, unless it is something I will need for my taxes, in which case, I move it to the tax folder after having been filed in the “paid bills” folder for 6 months.

If you have any questions about my bill-paying method, feel free to ask!



5 Comments

  1. Amy on June 6, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    I use MyCheckFree.com for paying my bills and it has been a real lifesaver for me. My bank does not offer free bill paying (jerks!) so I had to find a third party to do this. I also called companies directly and just use the automated service.

    When I was paying more bills online, I would write the due date in the corner where the stamp would go and make two piles of them (separated by a post-it note), which divided them into the two pay periods. I would just stack them in order and could see the absolute-last-minute day that I could send the bills in.

    Yeah, that’s how we roll over in our house!



  2. Dayngr on June 6, 2007 at 9:07 am

    Also, try to change your billing dates to coincide with your pay days so that you can get bill paying down to once or twice a month. Nothing will drive you crazier faster than paying bills every single week. Online bill pay and quicken is a blessing along with a good filing system.



  3. Pam on June 5, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    Buy an accordian style file folder. As soon as you walk in the door with your mail….open it next to a waste basket…..throw out all of the junk mail and extra flyers….file all bill immediately by their due date. If you get paid on the first and 15th or every Friday…..check what is due pay all that are do before the next pay period….this way you never lose/miss place a bill…..always avoiding late fees and negative impact on your credit score….Pam



  4. Heather on June 5, 2007 at 6:30 am

    Imabug, the problem I have with automatic draft is if there is ever a dispute it is very difficult to recoup your money. For certain things like the mortgage which is typically unchanging (except for those with ARMs and such)an automatic draft makes complete sense. However, with the phone/internet company where there may be unexplained charges, hidden fees, or interrupted service I don’t know that I would authorize automatic deduction.



  5. imabug on June 5, 2007 at 5:48 am

    I set up automatic draft for all the utility bills that offer it so I don’t have to worry about it. Payments are automatically made (roughly) the same day each month so nothing is ever late.

    For the bills that don’t have an automatic draft, I put them by the computer and serves as a reminder every time I sit down in front of it to do stuff. They usually don’t sit there more than a few days before getting paid.

    I also have all my recurring payments set up in Quicken where it shows up a few days in advance of the set payment date. It serves as yet another reminder to make sure all the bills get paid.