Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Managing and Organizing Your Bills

I'm a huge fan of filing, I mean how can one NOT be? Right?? Who doesn't love a nicely organized file box with matching folders, and printed labels? Exactly! Ok, ok, I realize I "may" be in the minority here, but a pretty common problem is that we all tend to be pretty lazy and unorganized when it comes to our bills and personal documents. In every household there seems to be that same mail pile all disheveled on a counter top or table somewhere, and before you know it your electricity is off because you forgot to pay your power.

The most fool proof tactic to pay bills is setting up automatic payments. I have this set up through Comcast, Verizon, my financial aid, car insurance and a few other little pesks. The only thing I need to remember is to pay rent. This not only guarantees your accounts are not delinquent, but also saves on paper and postage (and late fees!).

If you prefer the old fashioned way, but still seem to miss your due dates, you'll need to set up a file system using the supplies listed above. First, you will need to label the first 4 folders by quarters of the month (7th, 14th, 21st, 31st). Second, take inventory of all the bills you receive, including statements, important documents (insurance- car, life, house), contracts, etc. Create a file for each of the documents titled by the company name (Comcast, Progressive, Bank of America Checking, Bank of America Savings), and put them in alphabetical order after the quarterly bills files.

When you get a bill, check the due date and place it in one of the quarterly files that is at least 1 week earlier than it is due. So if the due date is the 18th, put it in the 7th file, that will allow sufficient processing time and give you a grace period if you can't get to it by the 7th. You will need to get into the habit of checking your folders every week to pay the due bills. Most email systems have a "reminder" function, that will help you remember to check your bills. After you pay a bill, write a little note on the bill that is was paid and when, "PAID- 6/14/09", and file it back into it's own file.

Bills and important documents vary with length of time to keep filed. The following should be kept a year: bills, statements, paycheck stubs. Tax documents should be kept for 7 years. Every now and then to keep the clutter down, go through your files and take anything out that has expired this length of time. Just make sure you shred it for privacy protection and then, of course, recycle! (Keep it in a bag, though! Loose "confetti" is a no no!).


liz said...

i love to file too! when i did my businesses year end taxes for 08, i thought my accountant was going to cry when they saw how organized my papers were.

Anyway - just wanted to let you know im enjoying the blog and thought of it yesterday when I cleaned my windows using old newspaper (which always amazes me how well it works) maybe youd wanna do a post on that tip - if there's anyone out there not yet in the know about this?

Patty said...

Yay, filing! and thanks for reading my blog- makes me feel a little less insane when i receive good feedback!

So, cleaning windows with old newspaper isn't just how homeless people in the movies clean windows? I'm going to look it up and find out what the magic is! Thanks!!

katie said...

yeah, apparently the enzymes in the paper or ink or something, when mixed with vinegar/water, helps collect all the junk, and doesn't leave streaks like paper towels.

also, if you use cloth towels for cleaning, DON'T use fabric softener or dryer sheets, 'cause, besides making them less absorbent, they will leave a film on stuff. which sucks when you're trying to wash windows with them...

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