Paying the Bills
A Necessary Evil, Unless You Are Homeless
(which is starting to look better every day):
Strategies for Getting It Done
Automatic and Electronic Bill Paying
What to Do if You're WAAAAY Behind
Bill Paying: Strategies for Getting It Done
It all starts with the incoming mail - this is where we must somehow find our bills. Some of these bills come from exotic locations such as Denver, Colorado and Salem, Oregon, but it's still hard to get excited about them.
It's tempting to view this influx of mail as one big job, but if you have any hope of getting your bills paid on time you must:
Separate the bills from other mail as soon as you get the mail.
Place bills in their "home" - not just anywhere in YOUR home. Make sure bills "belong" in a specific place in your home - be it a file folder, a basket, or a bulletin board.
Decide when you are going to pay the bills. If you pay them once a week on Sunday night, it will become easier to remember as time goes on, because you will become accustomed to "Sunday Night, pay bills." Set up a reminder in your PDA, write it on your calendar, or bribe an organized friend to remind you.
Start by first paying the bill that is due the soonest, or is the most important (mortgage or rent bill) so if you get interrupted and don't come back, the least damage will be done.
If you don't need to pay ALL of the bills today, don’t think in terms of “paying all bills.” Decide on a reasonable amount of time to spend and then stop.
If you have mail delivered to your home, it may be possible to place a mail slot in the wall of your home office (or wherever you do paperwork). That way, bills get delivered to the room where they belong.
Automatic and Online Bill Paying
Paying online saves you the steps of writing a check, putting the payment in an envelope, stamping and addressing the envelope, and remembering to mail it.
Online Bill Paying - sign up for it. You only have to enter the payment information once - then your bank will save that information for future payments. You will be able to pay your bills MUCH more quickly and easily. You may even be able to set up recurring payments so that you don't have to remember!
Electronic bill paying: another option for most bills. Go to the company's web site and fill in the blanks. Be sure to make a note of your login information.
What to Do If You're WAAAAY Behind
Don't add to the backlog! As you are working on catching up, don't add new bills or receipts to your original pile. Keep new stuff separate from the old stuff. Start with the new stuff, and work backwards until you are caught up. That way, the new stuff doesn't turn into more old stuff.
If you are WAAAY behind (and the problem isn't lack of money), just do what you can. 15 minutes spent and two bills paid - or even one - is better than nothing. Just decide on a time frame and use your timer...you know the drill. We know how overwhelming it can be at times, but you can get a lot accomplished in several short spurts.
Be sure to reward yourself. For example, if you enjoy checking your email frequently throughout the day, decide that before you check it, you will enter a transaction in your checkbook. If you decide to spend a large block of time working on your checkbook, try to think of a bigger reward.
For big or difficult jobs, consider using a “body double” – someone to keep you company while you do the dreaded work. Some people find that simply having someone in the room (quietly doing their own thing, or perhaps helping with minor tasks) while they are working serves as an anchor to help them stay on-task.
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