We all have our own way of dealing with incoming mail. Maybe you sort it all immediately and put it away, every day when you get home. Maybe you toss it in a basket and ignore it until the basket is overflowing? Or maybe you use the incoming mail and bills as a paperweight to hold the front screen door open? Regardless of your system for handling incoming mail and bills, without an organized system for paying bills, accompanied by the already tight schedule and busy lifestyle we all live, payments can be late or missed altogether. This can possibly result to late fees, penalties, and higher interest rates as well. Late payments can sometimes result to ruined credit too. Therefore, an organized manner of sorting, paying, and recording bills is definitely a must, especially in this day of paperless billing. Even if you ignore the rest of the mail.
But as you know, this is easier said than done. So, though we all have our own little way of sorting bills and scheduling time for this task, sometimes these are not enough as we still end up paying late or forget paying at all. This may be because of the complicated factors that accompany the bill paying process itself, which include bills that don’t arrive at the same time, due dates that are different, as well as having a roommate or a spouse who shares the responsibility of paying.
To try and help you with the hassles of this responsibility, I compiled some useful tips on how to sort, pay, and record bills. But, remember that we all have different lifestyles and schedules, so a little bit modification might be necessary for you to perfect this task. You can simply incorporate some of these tips in your very own system and hopefully, everything will go according to plan. The important thing is to find the system that works for you.
Create a Bill-Paying Station
This space need not to be a large one. It can be a small table, a shelf, or simply a basket to hold your bills and supplies. You may also add some helpful office materials, such as plastic or cardboard drawers, a trash can, paper shredder, a notebook, a white board, writing materials, highlighters, envelopes, and stamps. This area should be a visible place that you see every day, so that you will be reminded of pending bills. You can even make your own sorting rack with labels by date or biller out of cardboard that you have taped or stapled into the desired shape, if you want to make it pretty you can color or wrap it in festive paper.
Sort your mail and collate all pending bills together
Sort through the mail as soon as you receive it and separate your pending bills from all of your other mail. Take note immediately of the due date and recycle any envelope stuffers that don’t include any personal information such as special offers and promotions for products. When done sorting, immediately place your pending bills in an envelope, pocket folder, or a Pending Bills basket. Whichever form of sorting you have deemed best.
Establish a separate email address just for electronic bills
This will be very useful to those paying their bills online as well. Creating a separate email address will ensure that you won’t overlook an electronic bill as it is mixed with the many other email messages you receive or ignored as spam. The same procedure applies – view online bills as soon as you receive email notification that they are available and take note of the due date. You can also make a reusable facsimile to place in your bill file out of a response envelope from a piece of junk mail that you write the name of the electronic bill on with a permanent marker.
Allocate two to four days per month
If you are not paying on-line, then you do not have to drop everything you’re doing when you get a bill to pay it immediately (some people do!). Yes, it is somewhat bothering to think of bills that pile up but it will be more efficient to allocate a specific time so that you can pay more than one bill at a time and prevent going back and forth among different areas. Designate around two to four days per month and do all of your bill paying on those days. Some people might want to pay bills one day per week, such as every Friday. This works too but what’s important to know is that you do not have to pay the bill as soon as it arrives in most cases. Unless you are very forgetful or have an unreliable schedule. In these cases it may indeed be best to pay the bill as soon as it comes in so that you know you will never miss it.
Record the necessary payment information and keep the copies of the bills
Record the amount, the due date, the interest rate, the balance, where you paid, etc. You can even use a spreadsheet layout as well, arranged according to month. Next, you can store the paper copies of paid bills in an envelope labeled with the corresponding month. Is this necessary? Definitely. There is a slight chance of service provider system errors that may result in payments that were not recorded at all (trust me, these things really happen). Therefore it is important to keep a record of these documents. So that in such a case you can not only avoid repayment of the bill but also any late fees associated with it. Keeping detailed records has the potential to save you a lot of money.
Probably the most important tip would be to find a system that works for you. This is true because some people might find it easier to just pay bills as they arrive, but for others it may seem like a waste of time, especially for those who work on a daily basis. In some cases, efficient bill organizing might mean buying computer software that will keep track of everything for you, this works too – but not for those who have absolutely no idea on how to install programs in the first place. You have to try different methods to discover which one really works for you. Once you find what works for you, stick with it!