Money Matters – Spring Cleaning: The Paper Shuffle
BOSTON (CBS) - This is not the newest dance on Dancing with the Stars!
It’s all of that stuff that comes in the mail each day that you do open and most times look at. But then it often ends up in piles. Could be bills, bank statements, or financial accounts, magazine subscriptions, medical insurance paperwork. Then you move them from one pile to anther pile. Maybe a little closer to where they need to go.
Let’s talk about the bills first. If you are getting charged late fees because once you open your bills you forget about them; consider setting up a system where the unpaid bills go into a folder and you sit down twice a month to pay them. Once you open the bill, review it and take it physically to the folder and tuck it in there. Don’t leave them sitting on the kitchen counter.
Schedule a time on your calendar to pay the bills just like you do haircuts or dentist appointments. The 4th and 20th works for me. Once a month is not enough for many of your bills are due sooner than 30 days. Some credit card bills are due in 20 days. You can sometimes get a discount of 2% or more if you pay a bill within 7 days. Companies would like their money as soon as possible.
Consider using your credit card to pay your bills on time. I have as many monthly bills automatically charged to my credit card as I can. I like getting the miles and there are fewer checks I have to worry about each month. So I charge my telephone services such as the landline, business line, cell phone, the oil company, cable and Internet connections.
I also charge almost everything I purchase including my groceries, doctor’s co-pays and gas. For one thing it’s convenient and at the end of the month I have a tally of my expenses. I get one bill and write one check. By doing this I have cut down the number of monthly checks on average to 4 and I have lots of frequent flyer miles. But you want to be sure you pay your credit card bill on time each month. Credit card companies earned close to $17 billion last year on late fee charges.
Consider using Quicken check writing software. The software makes it easy to track your expenses so you know where and how you are spending your money each month and it’s easy to balance the check book. Takes only minutes.
Consider banking online. You have seen the commercial where the woman runs her bath water and before the tub is filled she has paid her bills. Once the program is set up it could be that easy. Minutes! Many of your monthly expenses may be the same every month, mortgage, rent, insurance, or school loan so these are even easier. You have the bank automatically send the payment in each month.
Or consider a bill paying service, especially if you travel a lot.
Take the time to set up a system and you’ll never be late again!