Bills, Bills, Bills
So you got a ton of bills? Nowadays, who doesn’t! With every subscription comes a sacrifice. Poor wallet, your diet is looking pretty slim And there are those bills you need to live on like, a mortgage, utilities. The necessary bills, pretty much everything ending in the word “insurance”.
Let’s not forget that all of the many bills they also need to be paid on time. If not there is a late fee. Oh man, those horrible penalties! I mean like I get it, I’m late, but do I really need to pay a fee? Avoiding those pesky fees is a skill all on its own. And if you have been fee less this month, congratulations you just mastered the skill of timing. Timing is just what it’s all about! And of having the money to pay them!
The Best Way to Take Control of your Money is having a Budget
Is this what people do when they tap the mic twice in the middle of a speech? Time out Guys! I didn’t want to continue to rant about bill paying if indeed you still need to learn how to budget. Getting on a consistent budget is the key to managing your bills. Once that is all set in stone, now we can work on getting on a bill pay strategy.
Here are some related articles on Budgeting Basics and or Strategies
- How to use the 50/30/20 rule in your budget
- How to use the Zero-based budgeting method
- How to prepare your Budget and stay consistent
Let the Bill Pay Rant continue…
The late fees can set you back from $20 to $100 each time. That’s would be $240-$1200 a year, goodbye vacation fund! Sound harsher on a bigger scale huh? If you’re looking to save money in your budget, this would be it. Paying on time! Checking your account to make sure you have the funds when it’s drafted out of your account is important too. There’s no need to have the double fee penalty, one from the bill and from the bank. Ouch!
The Truth Hurts me and my Wallet
Who has ever been behind on their bills? Raise their hand! Yes, including me too. The hardest thing is when your behind, and then there’s the catching up part. When does it end? My goodness, I’m crying out for relief! “Umm, hello! can someone just send a drone to parachute me a million dollars, and we’ll call it even?” As if something like that will happen. Even if I had a lot of money, why am I struggling with the little that I do have? At this rate, I don’t want to have a ton of money with a ton of bills. My solution to making sure that you are never behind on your bills is the following steps: Prep, Plan, Review. Still, confused? Keep reading, and I’ll explain more.
Prepping your Finances for Payment
The income that I receive from work is automatically direct deposit into two bank accounts. Most people might just of have one account that receives fund, but I find that having separate accounts is the best way to go. Half of my paycheck is divided into 50% for each account. You can elect any percentage you want just talk to your employer and or the HR department and fill out a form. By choosing multiple banks accounts
My Bank Account process for Bills
Checking Account number 1 is for all of my bills. Some are automatic with and others I have to pay separately.
Checking Account number 2 is for my variable expenses and savings. My savings portion is automatically transferred to my savings account when I get paid.
When you divide your money into separate bank accounts you are keeping yourself in control of your money. Dividing the funds with not allow you to not overspend on the amounts that are dedicated to bills. The one bank account for bills you might see a large amount and overspend on other expenses. I would think of it as “mistake-proofing” yourself.
If you are in a relationship using a multi-checking account budget method will divide the responsibilities. The benefit will ensure that you are only holding yourself accountable for what bills you need to pay. Dividing the bills among each other will keep you and your spouse from overdrawing in his or her account.
Tracking Bill’s and Payments
Keeping records of payments and due dates are very crucial in monitoring your bills. If there were no reminders I would naturally forget about them plus it’s good seeing my progress. Ya, know me adulting and stuff. Google calendar has made it super easy to remind me of when everything is due, the best part is that you can integrate all your calendars with google in one place. I love color-coding all of my events, green is what I make all my bill due dates.
If planning was a sport I would compete, using my happy planner makes bill planning creative and fun. My favorite thing to do is applying coordinating stickers and bright reminders when something is due. When I buy a new sticker pack my livingroom floor becomes all destination stickers, pens, and of course planners.
One of the best ways of keeping everything up to date is to have a bill tracker. You can create a document easily on Excel or use a planner that has line paper. Every time you pay a bill, write down the date, check number, and whatever reference number you can help keep a record of the payment.
Whenever there is a change of price, highlight that bill to track the differences, all the same color. You can even highlight everything green when it goes up in price and pink for the opposite. And when you call the company for a dispute, you can be on point. Go crazy and get creative, it stinks when you have to spend money, mind as well have fun.
Different ways of Bill Pay
The easiest way to bring mindful peace to bill paying is to sign up automatic bill pay. Typically you would set a date for the withdraw to come out of your bank. The amount and date are reoccurring for the designated length of the bill. I called this “Out of sight, Out of mind,” just make sure you keep track of the dates on a Calendar of some sort so that you have the funds when the withdrawal takes place. There are multiple ways you can sign up for automatic payments, either with the company or your bank, I’ll explain below.
Automatic payments set up with the Company
When you set up an automatic payment arrangement with a company you can even get a discount for doing your payments electronically. A lot of companies will offer special promotional prices for an automatic payment versus paying individually. Generally picking a particular day in the month might add less or more to your bill based on usage.
My tip is to always check your budget first before you pick the day. You wouldn’t want to have too many bills coming out of one weekend versus another. Balance bills to be distributed throughout the month is better. After you select a date record a reminder in your calendar for one day prior. Just in case you have to make any changes you still have time to call the company. In my experience calling on the same day to alter the bill seems to be difficult and no way able to stop the payment.
Automatic payment with your bank
Setting up automatic payments with your bank comes in handy when that it not an option with the company your paying. Forget the envelopes and the stamps and save more money paying online. Think of it as like sending an electronic check. All of your bill pay tracking is in one place so you can easily budget and keep track of your expenses. since you are the one sending payments you can really customize everything. You can set a desired amount and date to set payments. If there’s an issue with your payment it’s much of an easier dispute with your bank.
OTHER PAYMENT METHODS
Paying by mail
Paying by mail is still not the thing of the past. At most times it feels just as great to physically write out a check and send it by an envelope. One, it makes it feel as though we are adulting in the process of paying bills. When I wrote my first check and had to balance a checkbook it made feel me more responsible in spending my money.
I guess it feels the same way as paying with cash for purchases. There’s a mental connection in physically taking the time to pay something. To those of you that have issues with budgeting, it’s the loss that makes the money real, more valuable. So if mailing your payments are best for you, I say go for it!
Participating Stores or Cash checking stores that take bill payments:
Retailers like Walmart and also Cash checking stores have MoneyGram as a way to send payments to the companies you owe. In particular, MoneyGram will accept payment for vendors like cable companies or utility companies. You save time by not mailing in the payment by you still have to drive to the store. Moneygram payments come with a receipt for tracking in case your payment doesn’t post. Most of the time it’s applied within 48 hours because it’s electronic.
Creating a Sinking fund for IRREGULAR BILLS
There are those bills that are not due every month as the rest. And to be quite Frank I can consider some holidays and birthdays to be like bills. Even though most of the time it’s giving a gift but truth be told it’s an expense that is guaranteed to come once a year. Alot of bills pop up irregularly like car taxes, registration, license renewal, and school expenses. My solution to conquer all the irregularities is creating a sinking fund.
A sinking fund is like savings that you can put aside for those in miscellaneous expenses. You can open another savings account that earns interest while you add the funds. A tip to keep track of all these expenses is to mark them in a calendar when they occur and the amount you had to pay. For the following year, you have an idea when it might be due and how much to save for.
STAYING ON TOP OF YOUR BILLS
When you are reconciling your budget, make sure to mark bills that have cleared your account. If your subscribed on my mailing list a monthly bill tracker template will be added to my new library, so stay tuned for the launch, check your inbox! There is a column with a checkmark at the top– that is the column dedicated to making sure the payment wasn’t just marked to be paid, but also cleared your account. You can also create a version of this on Microsofts Excel or any form of Media. As long as you have something dedicated to always check and make sure everything is paid that’s all that matters.
You need to not only track what bills are due and how much you paid, but then you also need to take a look and see if there is anything pending so you know how much money you really have available.
CONDUCT PERIODIC PRICE REVIEWS
Internet, cell service, insurance, etc. are expenses where you can save money by taking advantage of promotions or simply by calling and having them price match their competitor. Just because something cost a certain amount when you signed up for it, doesn’t mean you have to keep paying that price forever and ever.
Checking prices once a quarter would be something you should add to your budgeting meetings.
Why pay more, when you can pay less?!
Planning and Scheduling Payments
Review your Billing Statements
One of the greatest practice to have is to review your statements. Tedious maybe, necessary yes! I’m not asking you to look at every single charge, every month. Take the time to review your billing statements always when there is an unbalance. The balance can shift positive or negative, this always causes for a review. I tend to question myself even if my bill is less, which feels great but it’s good to know. Generally, asking myself Why? If it’s due to less usage, I take into account one: I can do it again, two usually around this time next year it should be the same. If it’s surprising to see a discount, credit and or fee on your account, make sure you take note of this.
Planning gives you insight
After you’ve acknowledged and periodically reviewed your statements, you can jump and shout for all your money saved. I’ve noticed by reviewing my statements what I was purchasing or paying was based on emotions, time of the year, events that show up. Think of this as an in-depth study of yourself and money. Get to know your habits and what things you tend to pay for. Are you spending too much on Entertainment but never have the time to stay at home? It is time to take a subscription break? Are you needing to make more room to crush your savings goal for this month? Bills and Bank statements are like your monthly homework, get a red pen, highlighter, and make some corrections.
Scheduling your bills payments
After everything has been reviewed, now its time for proper planning. Did you ever think your initial bill due date was a convenience for you? Does the billing company really care that your bill is due on the 15th every month? Not really, they just prefer to make sure its paid on time. Rewrite your own terms, notice when you have less cash flow or income, and rearrange your dates accordingly. Now that you have reviewed your statements its time to get real! Really real! After you’ve confirmed that you are already going along with paying pick dates that are good for you. You can schedule as discussed before through your bank and through the billing company.
Choose an option that saves you time and worry. In my personal billing strategy, I split two of my largest bills between paychecks. I make sure that I’m not overspending between the small bills and have enough spending money to make it to the next paycheck. Besides cash flow you can also take into account lifestyle changes, growth in the family might change your priorities. Seasonal changes might change the amount you are spending in a certain bill category. After all these changes that come sometimes unexpectedly, this process is always rearranging. Just because it’s due at a certain date every month it’s not embedded in stone to be THAT DAY! Make your bills payments work for you, you are not enslaved to pay and that’s it!
Inspirations to close with
After all of these well thought out strategies, I wouldn’t be surprised that you might even not wait to rip open a bill in the mailbox. When I was behind on my bills the depression in the house was like if we have just lost something. Eventually, after all the effort to catch up this unbelievable exhale of relief can be felt throughout my entire body. What is going to get you to take action? How do you get rid of the fear of failure? We have more energy to do the things that we enjoy. Determination can also come from making things fun, enjoyable. Is bill-paying fun? maybe not. More like being the boss of your bill-paying will put that power back into your hands. And yes, at the end of the month you can be happy, and then the next month even enjoyable. At the end of the year with a prospect of a new year, with new goals…maybe even fun.