One repeated source of financial stress and anxiety for many people is the monthly payment of their bills. A friend of mine refers to his monthly dilemma as having too much month at the end of his money. I also know couples that refer to bill paying days as fight night because of the tension and strain it can add to a relationship. As it turns out, most of the anxiety associated with paying your bills is primarily a result of being reactive instead of prepared for your incoming bills. Developing a process or system to organize and pay your bills can actually be pretty simple if youre realistic about what you hope to accomplish and allow yourself the appropriate time to get comfortable using your new approach. Here are five ways to help you better manage your monthly bills:
1) Location, Location. Location:
Identify a specific place in the house where all financial related papers will be located. Ideally youll want to purchase a file box or cabinet, but if finances are tight and youre just looking for a starting point, a kitchen drawer, folder, or shoebox will work for now. Remember, just as the rule goes in real estate, location is a critical factor so make sure you choose a location that is accessible and close to where you open your mail.
2) Use Your Scout Training:
Be prepared! The famous motto of the Boys and Girls Scouts of America is a great way to combat bill anxiety. Have return labels, stamps, envelopes, a letter opener, calculator, and any other bill paying essentials available and ready for use.
3) Practice Makes Perfect
Develop a daily routine for opening mail at or near the area you designated to store your financial papers and supplies. When you open your mail remove the clutter that often comes with your bills and just keep the bill and return envelope. Then group your bills based on due dates. After using your approach for a couple weeks, review your progress and make adjustments as necessary.
Youre probably familiar with this acronym and for the purpose of better managing your bills, consider this simple twist Keep It Simple & Specific. Establish regular days and times to pay your bills. Consider identifying 3 to 4 days per month that you can designate to sit down and pay your bills. Try the 5th, 15th, and 25th to start.
5) Extra Credit:
When you sit down to pay your bills, take a moment to review your records for any discrepancies or fraud. Develop a list of your regular bills that will allow you to record your payment amounts, payment date, payment type, and any follow up that may be necessary. After paying a bill, write on the invoice the date you wrote the check and the check number used. Also include account numbers on your check
Its important to remember that developing methods to reduce financial stress and anxiety is simple and inexpensive way to feel better about your financial future. Its a sign of financial maturity and a key ingredient in the quest for true financial success.