Posted by: hopeorganizing | February 12, 2009

What do I do with Bills, Bills, Bills

Q-How do I go about getting my bills organized – when they come in, when do I pay them, how long do I keep them?

A-If you have internet access (which I guess you do if you are reading this blog)Set up bill pay with your bank.  I have been using my bank’s bill pay since 1997 and can’t image writing a check and mailing it)

It may take about 30 minutes to set up all your regular bills initially but it will make your life so much easier in the long run.

Some bills will be the same each month(rent, mortgage, car payment, cable bill, credit cards) and can be set up to pay the same amount on the same day everymonth.

Bills that change on a monthly basis (gas, electric, etc) can also be set up in a similar way.  Determine an average bill amount and put that it to be sent monthly.  When you open the bill that comes in the mail or email you simply adjust the amount.  It should only take about 30 seconds since you actually have to log into your online account.  (this way in case you forget to make the change you have likely paid most of your payment)

-Have one place with easy access (right inside the door, on the kitchen counter, on your desk) where all mail goes everyday.

-Schedule at lease 2 days(more is better) a month to go through the mail

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Responses

  1. Hi Lisa,

    I’ve got most of my personal bills set up for automatic withdrawal that I arranged with the company who is billing me, instead of with the bank. I just called them and they sent me the forms to fill out. When the payment varies, they take out the exact amount that the billing is for.

    There are a couple of companies that do not offer this service for my personal bills. For these, and for my business bills, I’ve recently been using a “tickler file”. This has worked wonders for helping me to pay my bills on time.

    The way I have my “tickler file” set up is this: I have 16 file folders; 14 labeled with 2 dates per folder (1-2, 3-4, 5-6, etc.). The 15th folder has 3 dates (29-30-31), and the 16th folder is labeled “Next Month or Beyond”. If I receive a bill that isn’t automatically being withdrawn from my bank account, I highlight the due date and file it in a folder that is dated several days before the bill is due. If I get a bill that isn’t due for a couple months (like my pet license or son’s soccer registration), I put it in the “Next Month or Beyond” folder. Every weekday, I check the folder for today’s date to see if there is anything that requires my attention. On Mondays, I’m sure to check the previous folder also, if the 2 previous dates both fell on the weekend. On the last day of the month, I check the “Next Month or Beyond” folder for items that need to be sorted into the dated folders for next month.

    I also use my tickler file to remind me to do other things. For example, one of my clients wants me to invoice them monthly (instead of per job, like my other customers do), so I put a note in a folder to remind me to invoice this customer.

    Another use for this file I have found is to remind me to check for online deposits to clear from my credit card processor. When I withdraw money from my PayPal account, they send me an email confirmation, which I print the 1st page of and file it on the day after I expect the payment to clear. Then I check to see if it has cleared, so that I can pay my business bills and also pay myself by transferring part of it into my personal account.

    One more example that I am “tickled” about: Instead of waiting for my son to tell me he’s been going without lunch for 2 days because he forgot to tell me his account was used up, I’ve now estimated my children’s school lunch expenses and put a note in my tickler file to remind me to give my son a check once a month.

    If you don’t want to check the file every day, I guess you could plan to check it every Saturday. Then you would only need 5 or 6 folders; one for each week and one for “Next Month & Beyond”.

    After my bills are paid, or I receive copies of my automatically paid bills, I file them in labeled folders. Every year, I clean out my folders and throw away or shred the bills and receipts that I can’t deduct for my business expenses and I file the deductable bills with my income tax documents which I keep for 10 years.


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