If you are living paycheck to paycheck, it can be tough to get control of your bills. And if you have a lot of bills, it can get even more confusing. With due dates spread out over the month, and bills piling up constantly, it’s tough to know what to pay and when, especially when money is really tight.
With this technology-filled world we live in today, there are plenty of electronic options out there to help us set up budgets and manage our finances, but it can still be hard to get control of your bills. If you want a good technology option, I highly recommend YNAB (You Need a Budget). It totally changed my financial life.
However, if technology solutions seem overly complicated to you, or you just can’t seem to remember to use them, these solutions aren’t going to work well.
Get Control of Your Bills
Back several years ago before I switched to electronic money management, I used a very simple paper calendar system to help me get all of my bills paid. Before I implemented this system, I was always forgetting bills or paying bills late and racking up late fees and other charges. Within a couple of months of using the calendar system, I got things back on track and kept them that way. And I didn’t do it by earning more money. Even though most of us would love to make more money, making more money is not the answer to all of your problems if you are unorganized and forgetful. No matter what your income, you still need a system. The paper calendar is just one way to do it.
Steps to Take:
1. Buy a simple monthly calendar.
2. Go through the calendar and mark the days you are paid.
3. As your bills start to come in, write the bill name down on the day it is due. Also, write down how much you owe.
4. When payday comes, open up your calendar and take a look at the bills that are coming due before your next payday.
5. Pay those bills.
6. Check off, or draw a line through each bill as you pay it.
If you don’t have enough money to pay all the bills, then highlight or put some sort of sticker or another mark next to the bills you can’t pay on time so that you can look back and easily find them on your next payday.
7. On the next payday, pay the bills you didn’t pay and the ones coming due next.
8. Repeat the process each month.
Obviously, if don’t make enough money to pay all of your bills, then no calendar is going to completely help you. But, for many people, the problem is not income. It’s being careless with money and being disorganized.
There is one more thing I recommend when using this system:
Choose a calendar that you don’t use for any other purpose. Don’t mix your bill paying calendar with your appointment calendar. Get a calendar that is JUST for bills. And keep this calendar in a central location with your bills and any other items you use when paying bills.
While computerized money management systems are great, there is something to be said for the simplest methods. Don’t get discouraged if one system doesn’t work for you. There are many, many methods for tracking finances and it sometimes takes some trial and error to find what works for you.
P.S. Check out our post with 13 money-saving tips for more ways to get control of your finances.