I used to be easily discouraged about ever getting a handle on our finances. I just couldn't find a method that I could stick to or that actually made sense to me. After trying the usual methods for bill paying and keeping track of our expenditures, here is something that has helped me to not only pay our bills on time, but actually keep track of them.
I made the electronic leap of faith, and scheduled all regular bills to be paid automatically. On the plus side, there were no more late fees, but the challenge was making sure the money was there! So I bought a large, cheap wall calendar and wrote on it when each bill was due to be paid. I look at the calendar often anyway (it's the most useful tool to organization and planning, right?), so each week I know to be sure the money is there for the bills coming up for payment that week.
Sounds so simple, but just getting the paper clutter off my desk, the 'remembering' out of my head, made such a difference in my attitude. Now we are actually getting out of debt and improving our credit rating each month because of this simple start.
I hope this helps someone out there who feels overwhelmed - you can do it! As someone once said to me, "you can't start any sooner than today"
By T Jackson from Tampa, FL
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I used to do this till I realized that sometimes either a bill wasn't paid on time or was paid twice! Now I use my google calendar to remind me when to pay each bill. I'm never late now and I know that I'm not getting ripped off, either.
You could always use a online reminder service to send you an email at or on a specific date.
There are many free reminder services online. Simple to use especially if your payments are on set dates each month. A really good way to avoid getting late fees because you missed a payment date.
Here in Scotland we can have our annual bills estimated by past usage and then the cost of gas and electricity is spread over 12 months so every month our payments are the same. Paying by 'direct debit' also gives a discount.
The only challenge I have is my gas bill and electric bill is different each month, so how do you know how much to put aside to pay these using electronic billing? I pay my bills on line directly to these utility companies, but I wouldn't mind signing up for electronic billing, I'm just scarred that I wouldn't have enough money to cover them not knowing how much they're going to be month to month. And now, my hours at work have been cut and my hours are different each week. What if I get laid off? Then what?
Sounds like a good plan - but then, anything that helps us lower our debt load is a great plan!
I use Microsoft Money. All direct debits are stored and I add every 'penny' I spend, with the result I know exactly how much money I have, or can afford to spend at any time. Between this and online banking I find I'm more inclined to save!
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