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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Those pesky bills

As we start on a series about paper, I thought we should start with one of the most unpleasant parts of paper management:  bills.   Kind of like when you were a kid and you ate your spinach first, then pork chop and saved the best (the mashed potatoes) for last. 

Since I actually like spinach, we'll start with "beets," aka bills, first.

What to do with the statements?

Every month, I get statements from my city for water and services, utility company, phone/cable/Internet, and so on.  I have coupon books for my HOA and car.  For some bills, I've opted out of paper statements and they send me an email reminder that my statement is online. 

The biggest question people have is what to save.   There are only two items I regularly save:  water bills and utilities.  The reason is we run a home-based business and can deduct a portion of our monthly expenses. 

There have been a few times when we have taken advantage of 12-months no interest payments.  I know Dave Ramsey wouldn't approve, but we've bought a few things this way.  I save those bill stubs until the item is paid off - always before the interest kicks in. 

The reason I don't save anything else is I can access every other statement online.  But I only do this on the computer at my desk which has a secure connection.  I would not do this if I used wi-fi. 

Here is my daily routine with bills:

1)  Open bills.
2)  Recycle junk inserts.
3)  Separate statement from invoice.
4)  Shred statement and anything with your name/acct number on it. (unless it's one I keep)
5)  File statements I keep.
6)  Place invoice and payment envelope in bill center  (keep reading for explanation)

Managing the payments

Here are three suggestions for managing payments:

1)  Auto bill.  Sign up with your creditor to have the payment automatically withdrawn from your account.

2)  Pay online w/ reminders on your calendar.   You can go directly to your creditor's website, or bill-pay through online banking.

My bills and checkbook are together.
3)  Create a bill paying center for your hard copy bills.  Put invoice and envelope in the order the bill is due.  Write the mailing date on the top right corner of the back of the envelope.  Pay accordingly (with reminders on your calendar)

Managing my bills takes up very little space. My bill center is in a bookcase by my desk. 

Managing your bills is easy once you've got a place to put them. 

And as you can see, it can be pretty too.

Hope this helps get control of your bills.  And keep reading for some other paper management ideas in the coming days.

Grace & Peace


***  This post deals with everyday bills.  I'll address other types of financial documents in another post. 


  1. This is exactly what I need today, cause tonight I'm going to tackle the backlog of bills that have piled up!

  2. I'm always afraid to throw away any kind of statement as my husband is also self-employed. I'm glad to know it's OK...I guess I knew that already as you can access the statements online...but it's so hard to let go of my PAPER!