Mastering the discipline to organize bill paying can be an arduous and uncomfortable task. The learning process that began with managing your allowance grows to encompass balancing your checkbook, managing household expenses, personal expenses, business expenses and all the expenses in between.
How to Organize Bill Paying
No matter how many or how few bills you have, the following steps will allow you to organize bill paying into a manageable task.
The goal of organizing your bills and paying procedures is two-fold:
- The first goal is to make managing and paying your bills an easily managed task. When you struggle to remember what you have paid or not paid, you run the risk of late fees, disconnected services and bad credit. If you are forced to re-organize every month when you want to pay your bills, you will likely put off the unpleasant task - after all who wants to spring clean every week?
- The second goal of organizing your bill paying is to create an easy to follow and understand system if the task must be passed off to another in the event of an emergency.
Prepare Your Space
You should be well-rested and energized for the first step of organizing your bills. If you have very little or no organization whatsoever, then this will be a time-consuming and draining task. Fix coffee, hot chocolate, another caffeinated beverage, or whatever will give you the pick-me-up you need to tackle this task. Gather all your paper bills together and set up with your laptop, desktop or paper and pen as necessary.
Sort and List Your Bills
Once you have everything together, the next step is to make a list of all your bills. Be sure you list recurring bills, with average payments if possible, as well as one-time bills. Include due dates for all bills.
Identify How You Will Track Your Bills
You can do this manually with a pen and paper, with a computer program like Excel, or you can do this in a somewhat more automated fashion using Quicken or one of the other financial management software applications. Whatever method you use, be sure that it has a calendar associated with it such that you can look at any day and know what bills are due.
Enter Your Bills
Enter your bills into your tracking system, whether it's computerized or not.
Every morning, look at the bills due for that day. Compare that opposite the available cash you have in order to be sure that you can pay those bills. If you track your current cash and then use your bill matrix to forecast forward, you can get a good idea of how much cash you'll need on any particular day in order to pay bills. And whether or not you'll have it available at your current rate of spend.
Organizing your bill paying begins with understanding your cash flow - both the money coming in and the money going out. Organizing your finances is an ongoing task, but like deep cleaning your house, once you have set up the framework, you should only need to maintain regular updates. You will need to find the system that works for you. Designate a certain amount of money each week for unforeseen expenses (eating lunch out for example), gasoline, grocery and other miscellaneous expenses. These are not bills per se, but if you do not keep track of them they can impact your bill paying efforts.
Money Management Tips
- Daily checks for bills that are due
- Add receipts each night for undesignated expenses
- Reconcile bank transactions and financial software weekly
- Avoid overspending by using cash only for minor or miscellaneous expenses
- Designate savings funds to be used only in emergencies
Learning how to organize bill paying is a difficult and time-consuming task initially. The investment of time and effort pays off, however, by becoming easy to maintain and keeping your money management on track.