Saturday, September 19, 2009
Stump the Organizer! Organize Bill Paying
“How do I keep track of bills so they get paid on time? Then how long do I keep them after they are paid?”
This is such a great question Cathy because it’s about a topic that affects everyone.
Unpaid bills need a home s so they’re easy to find when it’s time to pay them. Personally, I like to keep an action file that is organized by the category of action such as “to pay,” “to read,” and “to follow-up.” I like the action file because I like doing similar activities together. Some people like the tickler file system that is based on 43 files (1-31 for each day in the current month plus one file for each month). Bills and anything else that need to be processed on a particular date are filed under the appropriate day. Items for future months are filed under the appropriate month. Some people like how the tickler file creates a daily agenda.
Regardless of how unpaid bills are filed allow sufficient processing time. Payments need to be mailed seven to ten days prior to the due date to avoid late charges. Allow three to four days for processing when making online payments. Record the date to pay bills in your calendar, and use this date to file the bills if you are using the tickler file. I like to limit my bill paying to a couple of days during the month because the routine provides me with a certain amount of financial predictability. The dates chosen for the bill paying routine allow sufficient time for the payments to be received and processed.
Bill paying is a rather mundane task and it’s easy to put it off or forget about it. Schedule bill paying in your planner. Scheduling provides the time to get it done and a certain amount of importance.
The last step of the process is filing the paid bills. File the bills as soon as you are finished so you avoid making two tasks out of one. Using a month system to file paid bills is fast and easy. Bills paid in September are filed in September. In a year, just take out the old bills and shred them before filing the new bills. However, if your bills are tax-deductable you will need to file them with all of your tax-deductions for the year and keep them for seven years after filing taxes– or for the length of time your tax preparer recommends.
Organized bill paying involves providing a home for the paid and unpaid bills plus scheduling the bill paying. Once organized you may find you never pay a late fee again. It’s like money in the bank!