One of these days I hope to be well-off enough not to stress over money. Until then I will have to continue making do with what I have. Although I’m doing financially better these days it’s not because I’m making more money. It’s not that at all. I’ve just picked up a few tips and tricks over the years that help me stay on top of my finances.
Create a Budget
Late fees used to eat me alive. When I realized how much NOT paying my bills on time was costing me, I decided to do something about it. The first thing I did was create a budget. I opened up an electronic calendar and posted every single bill on the day it was due. I also scheduled alarms to notify me the day before. Using a calendar really helped and before long I had all my bills caught up and some even paid in advance.
Prepaying is the best way to keep from paying late fees. Being a month or two ahead of a bill gives me a little wiggle room. When I’m paid ahead, things like medical bills don’t stress me out as much because I know I have a little time to do something about it. Prepaying was difficult for me at first but became easier over time. My biggest fear was stretching myself too thin and not having enough money for food, gas, etc. To avoid that, I prepaid the smallest bills first and worked my way up over time.
Automatic bill pay is great when you are organized and a nightmare when you’re not. If you aren’t on top of your finances you can end up in a world of trouble. Forgetting one bill can result in a sea of overdraft and late fees. I would recommend paying your bills online first and only setting up auto payments when you’ve developed a healthy habit of paying your bills on time. After a few months if you’ve still got it together, set it up!
Open & Organize Mail
Check your mail/email every day. Move all your electronic bills to one folder and keep paper bills in one place. I have a drawer in my desk dedicated to bills. Regardless of whether the bill is electronic or paper, be sure to open and read it first before you move it. That will ensure there are no surprises and you don’t develop the move it then lose it mentality.
Just by doing these few things, I completely turned around my financial situation. I never thought I would ever be one of those people who had it together and paid all their bills on time. I always thought I struggled because I didn’t make enough money. Turns out all I needed to do was get organized and be proactive. Paying bills still feels like a chore but I hate it a little less these days.