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If you’re someone who struggles to pay their bills on time and consistently racks up late charges, pay attention.
I’m going to show you a simple strategy to help you overcome your disorganization and never pay a late charge again.
Being disorganized, almost without exception, goes hand in hand with overdue bill paying habits. When you’re disorganized, it’s hard to find things. Bills and notices typically get lost in the clutter.
If you’re finding yourself looking all over your home, office or car for bills, then I’ve got a simple strategy to help you create a new habit.
How To Manage Your Bills So You’re Never Late Again
First I want to share my personal struggle with this issue.
When I was working in corporate America, I was a very organized person. When I lost my job, my whole world fell apart, and I headed down a depressed and awful state. As a result, I got very disorganized, distracted, and hopeless.
It was a rough time for me, and worse it was of my own doing. I made a lot of dreadful and destructive decisions, and my actions were not in integrity.
Once I got my head out of denial and started taking full responsibility for my life, I was able to rebuild my good habits and actions.
What I’m sharing with you are the exact strategies I first implemented to help me get back on track. Over time, some of my strategies changed and evolved, and I’ll share them with you in another blog post. But for today, these are the strategies that helped my gain my sense of responsibility, accountability and gained a sense of order in the chaos I had created.
I want you to carve out some time and go on a search and rescue mission. Your searching for and retrieving all your bills from all the places they might have been left. Search the house, under the sofa, in your car – where ever you think you might have left your bills.
Once you’ve completed your search and rescue mission, I want to you grab a folder and mark the outside of the envelope with the word “BILLS”.
Next, I want you to put the folder in a location that you readily see when the bills come in. Don’t tuck it away out of sight. Put it right out there on the family bulletin board, on your desk, wherever you can see it daily. If you pay bills as a couple, decide together where you’ll put this folder.
Every time a bill comes into the house you’re going to put it into that folder marked “BILLS”. Simple and easy, and if you are consistent (and I know you will be!), your bills will always be in one place.
You can be as creative as you want with this folder, or you can keep it simple. You can creatively decorate the folder, or you can create another type of storage system for your bills. Maybe an “inbox” is more to your liking or a vertical file folder.
No matter what you decide, you bills will always be put in this folder. Do this consistently and you’ll never search for bills again.
If you’re paying your bills via online banking and all or some of your bills are delivered electronically, you’ll want to make sure you get email notification when a bill arrives. Use the above method for those bills that are still delivered via snail mail.
For those bill reminders coming via electronic mail, set up a special folder, so all reminders land in one place in your inbox. Once the bills have been filed, you can either delete its contents or save them – your choice.
Related: How To Love Your Money Series
So, you’ve got your bills all in one place, and you can readily and easily find them. Excellent!
Now you have to muster up the courage and open them.
You’ve probably spent a good portion of your life avoiding this step and keeping your head in the sand. And for some, you think this is a good strategy. But avoiding opening your statements is part of the reason you’re struggling right now. You don’t have the information you need to take action.
So, don’t wait – rip open the envelope and look at the bills.
I know it can be difficult and even scary to face our credit card statements, but you can do it! So go ahead, I’ll wait – look at the bills.
So how was that? Probably not as scary as you thought, right? And even if you were shocked by the amount, it’s ok. You’re going to get out of debt.
I want you to focus on three things when you open your bills:
a. The due date
b. The amount owed
c. The transactions that occurred during the month (eventually there will be no transactions to look at because you stop using credit cards)
Looking at the due date is going to help you when you develop a system for actually paying the bills, but for now, it’s a good exercise for familiarizing yourself with due dates.
For some of you, the amount you owe is a reoccurring, depressing activity. I get it – I’ve been there. I remember what that felt like. However, it can’t become your excuse for avoiding the ‘amount due’ box.
Take a deep breath and look at it.
Take the time to review all the transactions carefully. You’d be surprised how often you’ll find a mistake, in your favor that if corrected promptly changes what you owe. Go over your statement with a fine tooth comb. Then, put your bills back in your envelope system and give yourself a pat on the back!
If you’re paying your bills via online banking, you’ll do this step online.
Back in the day when I had a massive amount of debt I didn’t pay my bills with any regularity. It was completely random. Maybe you can relate?
When you don’t have, a system things can get pretty ugly. You end up with all this chaos and drama, wasting energy juggling, remembering and worrying about paying your bills.
So here’s what I want you to do – it’s so straightforward – I want you to decide how often you would like to pay your bills. Do you want to pay your bills once a month, twice or more frequently?
Once you make the decisions, you’re going to commit to it.
Get out your calendar. If you decided you want to pay your bills weekly, pick which day of the week and put it on your calendar. Put, ‘Pay Bills’ on each corresponding day. If you decide to pay your bills twice a month pick two days – maybe the 3rd and 16th and Schedule it into your planner. Now schedule it out for the remainder of the year.
Each time you see ‘Pay Bills’ in your calendar, you’ll grab your envelope or open up your online bill pay system and write those checks.
No more randomness, confusion, and chaos.
You’ve replaced it with predictability and stress-free planning.
[tweetthis]Paying bills doesn’t have to be random and chaotic. Use this system to make it easy and simple. [/tweetthis]
Getting a handle of your bill paying activities will give you such peace of mind. You’ll be in control and be able to make more responsible decisions with your money.