With everything going on in our lives, paying our bills can sometimes fall to the wayside – leaving us drowning in past-due notices, finance charges, and late fees. If that isn’t bad enough, it can also lead to big dings in our credit scores which can take years to fix.
Thankfully, getting into the habit of paying your bills on time is easy. And all it takes is a few simple organizing techniques you can read about below.
Identify every bill you have
Before you get started, you will have to put together a list of all your bills, similar to the example below. I know it can be hard having to think about how many bills you have (I always get major heartburn while doing this step), but it needs to be done so you can take control of the situation.
Your list should contain all of your reoccurring bills whether they are monthly, yearly, or quarterly. And don’t forget to include bills like utilities, car or house payments, loans, insurance, and taxes when making your list.
Also, be sure to check your credit card bills and bank account statements to see if any bills are being paid automatically. These are the ones we often forget about.
Next to each bill, write down the due date, how they are being paid (check, online, etc.), and whether they are paid automatically or not. Once you have a list of your bills, you can start organizing them using the tips below.
Move your due dates
In many cases, you can move the monthly due dates of your bills. This can be helpful if you like paying all of your bills at once or at a certain time of the month. For example, you can arrange to have your bills arrive right after your paycheck or at the end of each month. Once you arrange your due dates to your liking, you won’t believe how much easier your bills are to deal with.
To change your due dates, call the company holding the bill and ask if they can change the due date for you. Sometimes this can even be done online if you have an account with the company. Just make sure to double-check when the change of date comes into effect. This way you won’t be late with your next payment.
Use a bill tracking sheet
On many sites, you can find free bill tracking printables or you can even create your own. This makes it easy to make sure every bill is paid each month.
Remember, the bill tracker you create doesn’t have to be complicated and you can set it up however you would like. Personally, I like grouping my bills into categories (utilities, taxes, credit cards, etc.) as shown in the example above. You can also add bills to your tracker as they come up. Like a surprise car repair bill, for example.
Having a tracker sheet can also help you keep track of bills that can be negotiated. For example, if you notice that an insurance policy is up for renewal several months in advance, it will give you plenty of time to review the rates you’re paying and compare them with other companies. This way, you can negotiate a better deal before signing up again.
Automate your payments
When you automate your payments, your bills are paid automatically through your credit card, debit card, or checking account. This method is extremely popular because everything is done automatically – so it’s impossible to forget. In order to use this feature, you’ll have to set it up with each company individually or go through your bank.
If you decide to use this method, make sure you continue to check your bills on a regular basis to make sure there aren’t errors (like charges for things you never signed up for). You should also check your credit card or bank statements to make sure the correct amount is being withdrawn for each bill. That way you don’t accidentally overdraw your account and get hit with fees.
Set up email and text reminders
Many companies will now send you email or text reminders when a bill is due. To find out if a company offers this service, you can contact them by phone or check their website. In many cases, you can set it up yourself online.
Some companies will also email or text you after your payment has been posted. This is a handy feature if you are set up for automatic payments. Not only does it confirm that your payment was received, but it also enables you to double-check the amount of money they withdrew from your account.
Use a bill reminder app
Another thing to check is how easy the app is to use. Right now, I’m using a super simple app called Countdown Days App & Widget. I don’t have to give them any personal information and I can set up cute bill reminders (that will reoccur automatically each month). You can see an example of what it looks like in the above photo.
Setup online banking
Signing up for online banking can make paying your bills a piece of cake. On many banking websites, you can set it up so all of your bills can be paid with just a few clicks. All you have to do is add the payee (the company sending you the bill) and in some cases, your account or customer number, and you can easily transfer funds from your bank account. Some banks will even print and mail checks for you, which is handy if the recipient does not accept bank transfers.
Using this method is quick, easy, and gives you more control than automatic payments do. This is due to the fact that your bills are not paid automatically. You actually have to log in to your online bank, enter the amount, and click to pay each bill. As a bonus, you can set it up so your bank will send you email or text reminders when a bill is due.
Keep paper bills front and center
Many of us (myself included) still like receiving paper bills as they help us stay on top of things and provide documentation for our records. The biggest problem is that they can easily be misplaced, eliminating the one reminder you had to actually pay it.
This is why it’s so important to have a special spot you keep your bills until they are paid. You don’t want to place them where they will be covered up or stuck inside a drawer and forgotten. Especially, if you have no other reminder to pay them.
Note: If you’re someone who forgets things often, you may want to check out my other post: Organizing Tips For “Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind” Personality Types for more tips.
Use personal finance software
Personal finance software might be overkill if you just need bill reminders. But if you are trying to get all of your personal finances in order (or stick to a budget), it can be a great option. And as a bonus, many come with bill reminders built-in. Again, just be careful as to how much of your private information they will require.
Some of the more popular financial software options include Mint, EveryDollar, You Need A Budget, and Quicken. Some of these require paid subscriptions, but there are dozens of free options out there as well. Many websites also offer free spreadsheets you can use with Excel or Google Sheets to keep your budget in check but you will need to create your own bill reminders since they aren’t built-in.
What happens if you still forget to pay a bill?
Even the best of us can forget about a bill, even with reminders in place. If you’re someone who normally pays your bills on time, some companies will forgive the late fee. All you have to do is call and ask, the worst they can say is “no”. Just make sure you are polite and apologize for the error. And it also helps to remind them what a good customer you are.
In many cases, they will expect you to pay the bill over the phone to forgive the late fee. So it helps to have your payment information ready like your bank account number and your bank’s routing number. Other companies may allow you to pay a little later or set up a payment plan. But you have to call in order to find out.
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What are your techniques for not forgetting your bills? Please share in the comments!