10 Ways to Organize and Simplify Bill Paying
By Maria Gracia
1. KEEP YOUR PENDING BILLS TOGETHER, IN ONE DESIGNATED AREA. As soon as your mail arrives, or at your designated mail sorting time, sort through the mail, separating your pending bills from all of your other mail. When done sorting, immediately place your pending bills in a bill paying system. Of course, we recommend the Get Organized Now! Easy Bill Paying System!
2. DO NOT SEPARATE EACH PENDING BILL INTO A SEPARATE FOLDER. Whatever you do, don't put your utility bill in one folder, your car insurance bill in another folder and your membership dues bill in another. All pending bills should be together so they can be paid without having to search 10 different places to find them.
With the Get Organized Now! Easy Bill Paying System, all of your pending bills are conveniently placed together in the very first pocket. All paid invoices then get filed in the individual categorized pockets that follow. This system works like a dream!
3. DESIGNATE 2 TO 4 REGULAR DAYS PER MONTH TO PAY YOUR BILLS. Ninety-nine percent of the time, you don't have to drop everything you're doing when you get a bill in the mail to pay it immediately. Designate 2 to 4 consistent days per month and do all of your bill paying on those days.
My husband and I pay our bills on the 8th and 22nd of each month. You may do the same, or perhaps you might want to pay any pending bills one day per week, such as, every Friday.
4. PAY YOUR BILLS IN ONE PLACE AND KEEP ALL OF YOUR BILL PAYING ESSENTIALS TOGETHER. In order to speed up your bill paying efforts, always pay your bills in one place, whether that place be your desk, the kitchen table, etc. Wherever it is, this area should be equipped with your bill paying system, checkbook, envelopes, stamps, pens, pencils, a calculator, tape, a stapler and return address labels. Keep all of these supplies in a plastic container.
5. IMMEDIATELY RECORD YOUR PAID BILLS. As soon as you pay each bill, immediately record the payment in your check register or computer software register. Don't wait until later because if you do, there's a good chance you will forget. And once you forget, you'll have to waste time and money later dealing with overdrawn account fees.
6. IMMEDIATELY STORE PAID INVOICES AND RECEIPTS. Once you pay your bills, mark your copy or section of the invoice with the Date Paid, Check Number and Amount Paid. Then, file each into the appropriate pocket of your Bill Paying System with one pocket for each category; i.e. Utilities, Insurance, Credit Cards, etc.
7. ORGANIZE YOUR CANCELLED CHECKS AND CHECKING ACCOUNT STATEMENTS. Every month you will receive checking account statements, and possibly cancelled checks, from your bank. Immediately place them in a folder until your designated monthly date rolls around to reconcile your checking account. Then, keep your statements and cancelled checks all together in a folder for the year. You may need to retrieve them later for your accountant when tax season rolls around.
By the way, any bank statements and/or cancelled checks more than a year old can be stored away in a different area than your current files. You may also consider checking with your accountant to determine how long he or she suggests you need to keep this information.
8. CONDENSE YOUR CREDIT CARDS. The more credit cards you have, the more difficult it is going to be to keep them organized, and the longer it's going to take you to pay your bills. Whenever possible, condense your many credit cards into 2 or 3 credit cards, and get rid of the rest.
9. PREPARE ENVELOPES FOR RECURRING BILLS BEFOREHAND. For recurring bills, such as mortgage, rent or loan payments, you'll save a lot of time preparing a bunch of envelopes for each beforehand. For example, let's say you have to pay the rent each month. Make a year's worth of envelopes out with your landlord's name and mailing address, your return address and a stamp. This way, everything will be all set to go each month. You just write out a check, place it in the prepared envelope and mail.
10. SIMPLIFY EVEN MORE WITH INEXPENSIVE MONEY MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE. If you're paying your bills manually, you may consider purchasing inexpensive, money management software. My husband and I use Quicken. It's a breeze to set up and reduces the time it takes us to pay our bills by more than 50%. Plus, it's a great time saver at tax time because it will automatically organize all of your income and expenses, with a print-out, ready for your accountant.
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