I have a friend who told me he is stressed out whenever he opens the mail box because it is swarmed with bills all the time.
I was quite surprised that this guy who gets his andrenaline rush from car racing and bungee jumping is freaked out by the monthly bills. From what I know, he is single, has a steady job and doesn't spend lavishly, so his finances should not be a concern.
The main reason turns out to be his disorganized lifestyle. He told me he is already tired after a hard day's work and has no energy to attend to the bills.
So whenever he brings his bills home, they are strewn around the house (some on the kitchen table, floor, dining room, bedroom, etc) and they get buried under subsequent newspapers and letters.
Not surprisingly, even when he remembers his bills, locating them is a chore and eat up more of his time and energy. Clearly, treasure hunting is not his favorite past-time so he ends up paying up the late bills, after being issued reminders and penalties.
I guess my friend isn't alone in this situation. There are many people who get antsy from their stack of bills and cannot motivate themselves to dig in and tackle them.
Well, avoidance is not going to help matters and you end up paying more money. Here are some tips to make bill-paying easier:
1. Process Bills Immediately
Don’t let your mail sit for more than a day. Go through all the mail and have a rubbish bin ready. Keep the letters from friends or relatives, if you want. As for junk mail, credit card offers, magazine subscriptions, the bin is there or you could recycle them. Finally, the bills - pay them right away.
2. Place Your Bills In A Designated Place
Sometimes, we have pressing matters to handle and do not have time to process the mails. That is ok. Just have a designated place for all your bills.
For me, it is on a shelf in the kitchen (easier to take out whenever I have family discussions on the budget). You have to ensure all the bills are kept properly for your future reference. A lost bill runs the risk of late fees and I don't like paying more than is necessary.
3. Designate A Time To Pay Bills
For the procastinating types, expecting them to process bills right away is a fantasy. But at the very least, you have to pay your bills once each week.
Just designate a time, weekend will be good. You can choose a Sunday night before sleeping, flip open the check book, write the checks, review your bank balance and pay the bills.
4. Prepay your bills
Since you are going to take effort and time to pay a bill, why not do it for two or three months in one shot?
The cost is about the same as paying month by month but if you are the forgetful type, you avoid the chances of missing a payment. When you prepay bills, I do assume you have the spare cash though and not living from paycheck to paycheck.
5. Set Up Automatic Payments and Pay Bills Online
Set up automatic payments and consoliate your bills whenever possible. Also, nearly every major utility and bank now offers the ability to pay your bills via the web. Some even offer small discounts for using this service! Online payment is more convenient too as it saves you the trouble of walking to the post office.
6. Reduce Unnecessary Bills
Do yourself a favor by terminating services or subscriptions you no longer desire. It is not only a waste of money. You don't have to deal with the bills.
7. Ask For Lower Rates
If you haven't done this for credit cards, now will be a good time to start. You can save a huge chunk of money simply by calling and asking for a better deal.
8. Paying Bills Immediately Is Fun
When I pay my bills right away, I get such a kick it is kind of fun. The main thing is that it is a load off my shoulder as I am paying off a debt and not beholden to anybody.