I am looking for suggestions on paying bills and budgeting. Does anyone have any ideas on how to remember when bills are due and keep track of them? Due to illness I am having trouble remembering. Whatever way will need to be simple and easy. Yes, I know it is a huge request for simple and easy! There is no family near me and I do not want to ask someone else to take this on. Thanks for your help.
Laurel from Winnipeg, Manitoba
I have a simple method of tracking my bills and their due dates that works pretty well for me. I take a piece of paper and fold it in half. Then I label it with the month and year and draw a grid below. I use 4 columns and as many rows as I have bills.
The first column I use as a check box for when I pay the bill. The other columns are labeled: Due Date, Bill Name, and Amount. I organize my bills in order of due date and fill out the chart with each bill's information. Then at the end of the month I file this paper in case I need to refer to it later, if there is a dispute over whether something was paid.
One other thing I do is put either the check number or "online confirmation number" in the amount box after I have paid it. For future reference too! Hope this helps!
Laurel (in Port Orchard) (09/10/2008)
I buy a calendar each year and on the due date I list the bill and amount. Once paid, I highlight the entry. I have a pocket on the calendar that I put the bill pay stub and envelopes. This also helps me to quickly see if any bills have gone up or down from month to month. (09/10/2008)
Hi there. Mine is similar to Katie's idea.
I went over to Wal-Mart and bought one of those BIG calendars that you can hang on the wall. The nice thing about it is the fact it is big enough that you can notice it and hilight the most important bills, and you have lots fo space to write in each day.
Also, each month tear's off, rather than flipping it like you would with a normal calendar, so you have a choice to keep that month or throw it out when done.
I know if me and the hubby didn't have it we'd be up the creek without a paddle. (09/10/2008)
I now pay my bills with online banking which is quick and convenient. I get paid weekly, and on that same day each week, I check my balance and pay any bills due within the next week (or two if I can afford to). I keep all my bills on a magnetic clip attached to my fridge, they are in order of due date.
By only paying bills on one day each week it's easy to stay on track, some weeks I don't have any bills to pay and then I put any extra money into savings for when I have bigger, less frequent bills. (09/11/2008)
Hi Schbunnie, Katie and Laurel, thanks very much for your ideas. I will look them over and see what may work for me. I appreciate very much you taking time to share with me.
By Laurel - Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada
I write a check right away when I get a bill. I seal it up, and in the corner where the stamp goes, I write in the date the bill is due. Then I just use an elastic band to hold the envelopes and bills and I review them every few days and mail in a week or so early.
Mostly though I pay my bills on line and I schedule them to arrive a day before they are due. (09/11/2008)
Can you just pay bills on the 10th and 30th? That should cover all bills that come in, (09/11/2008)
I have all the bills come directly out of my checking account. --Power, gas, credit card. I would pay all of these in full every month anyway, and so I have them go directly to my account. SO MUCH EASIER THAN ANYTHING ELSE I HAVE TRIED. (09/11/2008)
I set up my online bill pay account to occur monthly/weekly/biweekly and pay bills that I know are the same amount each time. For other bills, I use my Palm and simply imput it in the calendar and set it so it reminds me every month/week etc. When its time to pay my bills, the alarm goes off and tells me its time to pay. The great thing is that when I check it off as completed, I don't need to enter the bill again. It will just remind me again when the time comes. So it's actually easier than most people might think. FYI, I do this for remembering birthdays. Another use is for those who take medication.
I don't like asking the companies to take out money automatically because then I can't control my bills.
Hope this helps (09/11/2008)
I bought a 12 month calendar from the Dollar store. When the bills come in, I go to the calendar and write the bill amount and the name of the bill on the day it's due. If it's a weekend date, I use the Friday before.(b)(/b) (09/11/2008)
I just use a notebook. It is very simple, cheap, and lasts for years. At the top, I write the month.
After you have done this one month - most of them will stay due on the same day so you can just copy that part over at the beginning of the month. Then, you know if a bill is missing and you have a reminder of when they are supposed to be paid.
This came in real handy when the Post Office "standardized" our address and "forgot" to tell us. I started calling the companies to find out where my bill was and I was told the Post Office returned it as "no such address". It took forever to get everyone notified of our "change of address" after we got the Post Office to tell us what our "new" address was.
Buy a box that is designed for holding remotes. Use it to put your bills in. In another slot you can have extra envelopes, in another slot stamps, ink pens a small purse size calendar. Now put this box on your coffee table, kitchen counter someplace where you spend a lot of time and will see it, with the box there and everything you need all in one place it should help you a lot. I know it sure helped me. Good Luck Darlene (09/11/2008)
I used to write a date about 4 days before the bill was due on the edge of the envelope, then put them in a pile with the soonest due on top. Now I pay everything online, and as soon as a bill comes in I schedule the payment for a day before it is due. So easy, no postage to pay, and this way there is no chance of forgetting.
For the few things I don't do this way, I now put the envelope right into my weekly calendar. Then when I turn the page it is right there to be paid. If I need to, I paper clip it to the weekly calendar. (09/11/2008)
I prepare my bills twice a month, the 1st and 15th. I release them when they are due though. I do online banking and that helps. I have recurring bills so I have made a list that serves as my template. If I have any new expenses, I insert them where they belong--payable on the 1st or 15th. I even plan for birthday gifts and any odd expenses I know will come up in that month and I can do months in advance. The template will not change except for changes in amounts (gas, electric etc) each month. Sometimes I won't get a bill but I know it is due because it is on my template list.
I show Income in one column on the left and use a running balance column on the far right. Then come the expenses and they have their own column. These are subtracted. I might have more income so that may show up again on a later date but is plugged into the proper date category. Actually, each line shows a running balance like a checkbook. It is easier if you can use Excel because you can make minor adjustments quicker than with pen and paper. The most time consuming though is paying bills which is why I use online banking. It takes time to set up the payee but you won't have to do it again. And, you don't have to pay for stamps. Very secure too. It is hard to explain on paper but I hope you can make sense of my way of budgeting and paying bills. (09/11/2008)
I have a notebook and at the top of each page is the month then I list the bills for the month. When I pay each one, I write how I paid the bill (online or check) and the date it was paid.
I realize it is a simple system, but I find it more effective than most others and, this way, I can see what is being paid and when. If there are any blank spaces, then I know I missed something. Hope this helps. (09/11/2008)
I use the notebook method it works and helps me remember. I set up all the payments for all basic things like home, electricity, water, insurance andphone to come out automatically and it is working for me.
If you are not using your own bank's online e-bill pay system then, (as someone else mentioned) I've also found a calendar works extremely well. Having been a business owner for over 30 years (now semi-retired), this is the method I've used in past (I now use my own bank's e-bill pay system).
The day a bill arrived in the mail I opened it and recorded the bill's name (i.e. Gas, Electric, Phone, etc) on the calendar day that was 5 business days prior to it's due date. This was to be "mailing day," and always left enough time for the prompt arrival of the payment to the creditor. I then placed the bill inside the mailing envelope and stamped the envelope @ that same time.
My calendar was pinned to a small cork and dry erase-type bulletin board that hung in my office. I also had a small magnetic basket-type holder secured to the board to place the stamped bill envelopes into. I trained myself to look at that calendar everyday so as never to miss mailing a bill on time.
I also kept all info for appointments, meetings, trips, family outings, illnesses, etc., written on the calendar, as well as a 5x7 manila envelope stapled to the back of it for all my business receipts to be placed into.
At the end of the year that calendar became my CPA's best friend, and my own year-at-a-glance view of everything that was pertinent to my business, and our family. (09/13/2008)
We do the previously mentioned calendar method. But the date we mark on the calendar is one week before the bill is due.
There are also free reminder services available online that will email you a reminder for different things. Some even will send a phone or text message or send you a message in your RSS feed reader. I do that on a few bills that are a larger once or twice a year payment like property taxes.
Another thing you can do is call the places you have bills with and ask to have the billing date changed to a certain date of your choice and set all your bills to the same date or do half you bills on one date and half on another. I haven't done this myself but have heard of others who have.
It really is easy in my opinion to choose one day of the week to be your bill paying day...like every Sunday...and check your calendar and write out all your checks that need to go out that week then.
I hope you feel better soon. (09/13/2008)
I have my bills set up with a paperless contact. They email the bills to me, this might be easier for you. You can just pay them online when they come in. (09/14/2008)
OK this is one I have a lot of experience at. I have had major problems with LATE payments etc. in the past. I have an extreme problem not remembering to do things but remembering at a USEFUL time. Remember to stop at the post office as you climb into bed at 2am or get to work at 6pm is USELESS :-) hehe. Since I fixed my problem I have not had a single late payment in over 5 years.
FIRST I do everything and I mean EVERYTHING online. No matter WHEN I remember, I can just "log in" and "do it". Second call up all your credit cards and CHANGE your billing date. I have all my cards due as close to but not before the 1st of the month as possible. Most will let you set a specific date many will only give you a range (they WANT you to be late they get to charge a $35 late fee and if that puts you over the limit also a $35 over limit fee. How nice eh :-)
Now I just know that during the last week of the month I need to LOG IN and take care of the bills. I have TWO accounts at the bank. 1 account is my normal account the other is my bill payment account. The bill payment account has NO CHECKS and NO DEBIT CARD. the only way to access this account is ONLINE or IN the bank. this is important.
When I log in to pay my bill as I pay each bill I am paying from the bill account. I log into my bank and "transfer" the money from the primary account to the bill pay account. Since this bill pay account is ONLY used for bills and has no checks of debit card etc. There is NO WAY something can "accidentally" draw funds from it and cause me to have any payment bounce etc. Very safe secure with lots of peace of mind :-)
BE CAREFUL you need to log into pay the bill MORE than 24 hours BEFORE the due date (MOST will not let you PAY on the due date without paying a "fee" of $15 for the convenience.
I keep logs of everything. I have a "My Finances" folder on my computer. I have scanned copies of all my cards. Downloaded or Scanned copies of ALL my statements.
Get Firefox. Install RoboForm (for the few sites where the built in pass save in firefox does not work). Make sure you can log into all account. Create a folder called Credit cards. Create a sub folder for accounts and payments.
In accounts create a folder for each card. in there make a text file and put ALL the info there card number (don't forget the extra 3 digits on the back the CCV code) your security questions passwords what number they have THERE number etc. Put the scanned copy of the card in there. Put your EULA and Terms and any other documents in there.
Now in the payments folder create a folder for the current YEAR in that folder create a folder for the current MONTH. NUMBER than Name so 09 September (so they stay in order)
NOW get a Firefox plug in called SCREEN GRAB. You PAY your bills at the confirmation screen you can now right click go to screen grab SELECTION the screen turns pink you highlight the "receipt" for your payment and you SAVE it to the YEAR/MONTH folder you made naming it like this: 2008-0916 XXXX 30.png
Always start with YEAR (this keeps everything in calendar order)- month and day then the last 4 digits of the card number then the payment amount ignore cents.
NOW if there is every a question can you in seconds bring up your payment receipt to prove you paid a bill (saved me on too many occasions where the said I paid late or not at all)
Note if they do not get the payment YOU do still owe it (the money should still be in your account) but this receipt is your ONLY proof that its THERE fault and not yours. WITH this receipt they will refund ANY fees that occurred as a result of there error since you have PROOF you made a good faith effort to pay. Saved me $105 in fees on more than one occasion.
NOW go to your CC page get to the login screen but do not log in. NOW open a new tab and repeat till you have a tab for every single credit card you have. NOW goto bookmark and SAVE ALL book marks.
NOW when I want to pay my cards I click book marks goto the Credit Cards folder and click OPEN ALL IN TABS and in seconds every one of my cards is ready in a tab.
If it's firefox save the user pass is already there you just click LOGIN if not you click the ROBOFORM button at the top and it fills it in for you and you click Login. Pay the bill save the screenie close the tab move onto the next card.
I can pay ALL of my accounts in less time than you take to pay ONE SINGLE bill by hand. :-) less than 5-6 Minutes and I am all done. SETTING up this system will take you the better part of an entire day.
But once your set up its utterly painless. Every 3 months I log in and download all my statements (most keep more than3 months online but some do not so to play it safe I do it every 3 months). I also do this same thing for all my bank accounts.
The convenience security and speed are so amazing I could never do it any other way. Its just amazing. Be sure to backup your book marks AND backup your passwords file so you never have to do all this over again.
MULTIPLE backups of your private data! I use a 4gb thumb drive I have allway sync and go on it and it syncs with my Finances folder on the desktop. I log it and click analyze and then sync and it does its thing the thumb drive gets tossed back into the safe.
Need a cheap safe? Harbour Freight $30 normal $20 on sale nice little Keypad digital safe. They are awesome :-) (09/17/2008)
One more thing. UNLESS you have PERFECT memory and you DO NOT have money problems IE always plenty of money in your account NEVER EVER setup up automatic monthly payments. VERY dangerous. if your tight on funds and close to your Limits EACH bounced payment can equal $140 in fees. You see the BANK will charge you a $35 return check fee the CREDIT CARD company will charge you a $35 return check fee AND a $35 late fee AND a $35 over limit fee since that $70 in fees will likely put you over your limit. That's $140 PER CARD! Trust me you do not want to go there. To make it worse the bank will embezzle your money by ALTERING your Bank Records to order the transactions from largest to smallest creating EVEN MORE overdrafts.
I overdrew my account with a single transaction by $12.50 2 days later they ERASED 10 days of transactions and "reordered" them so that $12.50 goof turned into over $300 in fees (NO I am not kidding and YES its apparently legal to embezzle if your a bank AND its right in your terms of service GO read it it will stun you).
So be very careful. I would rather make NO payment and try to work something with the CC company than have $140 in fees. (09/17/2008)
I use the notebook method to know when my bills are due. It works great and you have a record for years to see how your utility bills, etc. have gone up. I also have automatic pay for utility bills so they can be paid when I'm on vacation. But one thing I have recently learned is to be very careful about which credit card you are paying. I made a mistake and clicked on the wrong credit card and sent them a large sum (vacation expense). I noticed it immediately after it was posted. It has taken them more than two weeks to return my money to my bank account. Yes, two weeks!! Oh, don't you think they would have charged me every fee available if I had been five minutes late with my payment, but it's okay for them (apparently legal too) to take two weeks to return my money. Because it was a "large" sum, it takes longer to get it back, than if it had been a "small" sum...like they don't deal in "large" sums of money every day!! So my advice is when paying bills on line be careful the amount is correct and the payer is the one you think you're paying. This has been an eyeopener for me. (09/19/2008)
I have a checklist of all of my bills. It includes the name of the bill, when it is due (or usually due) and the usual amount (which is sometimes a guess like for utilities). Then I can check off when I paid the bill.
I also recently added something else to this system. I took manila file folders and cut them in half. I have 3 halves. One says "Pay on the 1st." One says "Pay on the 15th." And one says "Pay ASAP." The ASAP folder is for unexpected bills, or misc bills that are not in the usual list of bills for the month, that I just need to pay as soon as I can. I could just put those in the folder of the date they need to be paid by but I don't like them mixing in with my usual bills, but you could if you wanted.
Then when a bill comes in the mail, I tear off the payment slip and stick it in the appropriate file folder. I then file the statement if it is something I keep.
Then I will know on the 1st and 15th exactly which bills are due. I pay them and check them off on my list to be sure.
I do online bill pay, it is the easiest! I have seen several systems though and my favorite is Wachovia. I suggest you go to multiple bank websites and check out the demos, some offer much more helpful tools. (09/22/2008)
Lots of suggestions here I might add one that I haven't seen here but does combine to similar ideas.
I'm a home based business owner who unfortunately does not have regular 'paydays' so I've had to develop a system to pay bills when I have the money and pay ahead when I have a little extra income. In insuring that I am not missing a due date I purchased what I will call a calendar box. You can find these at places like CarolWright.com or HarrietCarter.com for about $25. Its a box with slots for 31 days. As the bills come in I put the bill in the slot a few days before the due date, helps me keep my due dates prioritized.
This could also be done with a shoe box and Index Cards numbered 1-31, frugal! (09/26/2008)
Go to www.digital-women.com - They have printables for budgeting, things to do, etc.I use the one for BILLS, it has a place for Bill Name, Due Date, Amount, Paid, and Check#. I pay my bills online, so I just put a check in the last space after I pay and print out my receipt. (11/16/2008)
By Iris M.
I don't know what internet service provider you use, but MSN has a calendar feature that you can set up with the bill dates, and have it send you reminders via your e-mail. You can set it up to repeat weekly, monthly, yearly, bi-weekly, etc. A very handy gadget, that has often kept me 'on time'! (11/17/2008)
Thank you all SO VERY MUCH for your excellent suggestions. I know I will be able to find and use one of these many suggestions. Your caring thoughts of helping me definitely warm my heart. Thank you each and every one of you. (11/18/2008)
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