March 14, 2007

Kill Bills

The bane of many people's existence is an overabundance of bills and other unwanted mail. The natural thing to do when you owe money to someone is to put the bill in a pile and forget about it for a few weeks.

Then the late notices appear.

Procrastinating on bill paying and not having a bill paying system can cost you time, money and frustration.

The first step is to create a "Bill Paying Center" on your desk. This can include some hanging files, a desktop filing organizer (horizontal or vertical) or a special drawer just for bills. But be careful about "out of sight, out of mind". This system will have areas categorized as "Bills to Pay", "Bills Paid" and "Checks/Bills Cleared". Also in the Center will be a desk or wall calendar to be used to mark bill due dates.

The second step is once a bill comes in, open it and throw away the outside envelope and mark the due date of the bill on your calendar. If you are not ready to pay the bill, put it in the "Bills to Pay" category or file. If you do pay the bill, with either a check, credit card on with online bill paying software, write the payment information on the bill:

"Paid 3/14/07 with check #12345" or
"Paid 3/14/07 online. Confirmation #123456"

Put that paid bill into the "Bills Paid" file. Once the bill has cleared your account, put it into the "Checks/Bills Cleared" file. These will remain in here for three months until you either shred them or file them for tax purposes. Always shred letters or bills with your personal information on them.

Having a predesignated hour or day for bill paying is helpful in getting the dreaded job done. Say every Sunday morning before breakfast. Once you have spent about three months using this system, knowing when bills will be coming in and when they are due will be second nature.

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