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How do you pay your bills on time?

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I am having trouble keeping on top of my bills and paperwork, and would love to find out how everyone else does it.  We have two credit cards, which we pay in full each month, and assorted other bills (phone, internet, oil, electricity, etc.), but I am frequently paying late because I can't keep up with all of the bills and statements and different due dates.  Funds are not an issue, as I am fully capable of *paying* the bills (there is plenty in our account and bills are not a hardship).  It is just my poor executive function skills that makes it difficult for me to actually get the funds sent out.  Currently, I get a mix of paper and online statements, and I pay with online banking through my bank's website.

 

Do you all use a mobile app like Mint to keep track?  Set things on auto-pay?  Is this difficult for anyone else?

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Would it be helpful if all the bills are due on the same date?  You may have some luck calling around and changing the billing date on some of your bills.

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I just usually pay them as soon as they come in the door (paper ones) and pay the ones online as soon as I see the notice in my inbox.

It helps that I put the bills on the kitchen counter and my checkbook is in a drawer right by them.

I can't avoid seeing them that way.

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I have reminders set in my phone for a couple of days before they are due and again for the day before they are due.

 

When the alarm goes off, I tell whatever kid I am with, “Make me pay my bill when we get home. Don’t let me do anything else until I have paid it.â€

 

I have usually forgotten by the time we get home, but a kid reminds me, and I sit down right that second and do it.

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More and more bills have the auto payment method available now.  I use that whenever possible.

 

Otherwise, I keep all other bills clipped together in a place where I sit at some point every day.  I write the date on each envelope which is the date that I MUST send it by.

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DH pays the bills now, mostly digitally. But back in the old ages, before online banking, I set up a three-ring binder for my own bill paying. I put four folders in it and labeled them Week One, Week Two, etc., and when bills arrived in the mail, I would put them in the folder for the week that they were due (a January 6 due date would go in Week One; January 23 would go in Week Four, and so on). Each week I would take out the NEXT week's bills and pay them. I mailed things a week ahead in order to give them time to be processed in the mail.

 

Maybe something like that would work for your paper bills.

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I don’t like auto pay.

I sit down twice a month and pay whatever is due. I use quicken to keep track of due dates as well as balance my account. A quick check of quicken tells me if something is due.

Maybe you can figure out due dates that are close together and pay them all on day the 15th and then another pay date at the end or first of the month. Often you can set a payment for the due date when you are setting up that payment.

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Auto-pay on everything we can. Other small bills like medical bills DH does from his phone as soon as he opens them. Or calls for if it's something we need to get a payment plan on and then we set up auto-pay for that. DD9's theater can't be on auto pay so I pay it as soon as I get the email invoice. We cannot stay on top of it all otherwise. 

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I keep them together, either in my purse or in a small pile.

Nothing else goes by the pile.  

Either way, they kind of glare at me.

 

About twice a month I panickedly think that something must be about due.  Then I pull them out and pay them all in a row.  This is usually around the 27th and the 13th.  If I do that on those dates, I never ever am late.

 

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Every year I sit down at the beginning of the year (or the tail end of the previous year) and set up a spreadsheet that lists every paycheck to come with dates and roughly what each paycheck will be. Then because I know roughly when all the bills are due, I divide them up amongst the paychecks for that month so they will be paid before their due date. It generally ends up being the same each month with some variation for months with a third paycheck.

 

On payday I just work my way down the spreadsheet checking things off and paying accordingly. If there’s an unusual bill, I add that to the spreadsheet when it comes in. I set reminders for some things on my phone if I can’t pay it right on payday. There’s a medical bill for dh’s ER visit this summer that I’m paying off over time and the bill isn’t available on payday. Reloading the prepaid cellphones is the only other thing I have to do that for.

 

If you aren’t a recreational spreadsheet-er then a checklist could function the same way. One checklist per month divided by payday. Stick those sheets in the front of an expanding file and stick your paper bills in the same expanding file divided by month, or even just attached to the front of a file folder where you stick all your bills. Print out the bills that don’t come on paper and stick them in the folder as they come, too. Sure, it defeats the purpose a little, but that physical paper bit would be a helpful, physical reminder. On payday, work down your checklist and through your file folder.

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I appreciate what you are going through. I used to spend an inordinate amount of time searching for bills in piles of junk, and so on. Incredibly stressful.

 

I have three types of bills -- credit card, bills I can pay online, paper bills. I only pay online when I can use credit card. I will not do online linked to bank account or online that requires ss#.

 

1. Mid month, I check cc balances online, then make sure I have adequate $ in checking account for all bills. I write it down on one page, just handwritten, nothing fancy.

 

2. My first cc bill is due about 10 days before end of month, so I pay all cc bills then, by phone. I pay current balance, not just last statement balance.

After that, I use cc to pay online bills, putting in the date when these are due.

I update my one page summary, different color ink.

 

3. Towards end of month, I pay paper bills. Some haven't arrived early enough to pay with online stuff, and I find it easier to do paper ones all at once.

 

One of the best things I did to make things go smoothly was to organize the stuff in my desk. I spent $$ at container store on little wire organizers, so no last minute frustration at not being able to find staples, tape, stamps. I am not naturally organized, so this was a big help.

 

My filing system still needs some improvement, but one thing that works is a small file box right on top of my desk, with the usual folders. Ongoing paperwork from past years is my current challenge. I have actually bought a dedicated document scanner.

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I have a system with which I only have to think about bills twice a month. You don't have to mark things on a calendar, make piles, file things chronologically, send anything in the mail and rarely even receive any bills in the mail. Don't let the length of this post scare you; I'm just uber thorough.  It is easy to set up and implement and feelings of panic never arise.. 

 

1) Get all your payees set up in the bill pay section at your bank (see note at the end of this paragraph if you don't currently use bill pay or don't want to). By the way, I don't mean automatic payments; I only use that if required to do so.  When setting up bill pay, the bank will often say that automatic payments are available for certain payees and ask you to choose that option, but I just deny it and move on. Getting payees set up in bill pay will take a good amount of time but once done, it's done.

  • Note 1: You could use paper bills instead of bill pay with this system, I just think it's far easier to not have to keep track of and sort bills, and to let the bank do the sending of the payment for you.  No check writing, envelope stuffing, stamping and mailing on your part!
  • Note 2: I don't like automatic payments because then I still have to mentally process each bill individually every month.  I have to make sure the payment goes through, in other words have to see with my eyes that it hit my account. With this system, I don't have to do that.  I see that they all go through all at once when I hit "pay." 

2) Sign up for e-notices with as many payees as you can. You want to cut down drastically on paper bills arriving in your mailbox.  You don't need them with this system.  I don't even care about bills that might arrive in the mail, I just glance at them quickly to see if anything changed; if not, they just go right in the shredding garbage. If it's a bill jt has a varying amount due each month, I do note that amount before shredding it.  See below. 

 

3) Open a Word document and create a master list of all bills, divided into sections. I do  "Pay first of month" and "Pay mid-month" (my dh gets paid on the last day of the month and I get paid on the 15th, so that's why I chose this system; you can choose any dates that work for your situation). I have what-goes-where evened out so that it's about 50/50 when it comes to the total of approximate amounts due, but this, too, could be varied if, for example, you have more money at the beginning of the month than at at mid-month. In the Word document, you want to note both the payee name AND the amount due.  If it's a varying amount, see below. 

 

Some notes about bills:

  • A high percentage are due at or around the first of the month.  Many aren't though and you usually have a 7-10 days when the grace period is taken into account to pay most bills once they arrive. As mentioned above, with some payees, you can call and ask to change the due date so use this tool if available to better organize your list.
  • If there's a bill that's due quarterly, I note the four different months it's due in the "notes" section at bill pay (where it will be visible when logged in to bill pay). Then I know at a glance if that's a bill that I need to pay that month. 
  • For bills that have a varying amount due, when you get the e-mail or bill telling you that amount due, note that amount in your Word document in parentheses next to the payee name.

The point is to get your Word document organized with a payment system that works for you. Since the date due of the bill rarely changes (unless you have called to request a change), this system lets you not have to note each month when something is due. 

 

4) On the 1st and 15th (or whatever dates you've chosen), open up bill pay and your Word document and pay all the bills noted for those days. It takes about 10 minutes twice a month and you're done. 

 

I've been using this system for years and haven't missed a bill yet. You do have to make changes with the payee if changes arise but you can easily adjust your Word document as needed.

Edited by milovany
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I use auto-pay when available. Most are directly from checking on the due date. Our phone automatically goes on the credit card. (They don't have the checking option.)

 

For the non auto-pay bills this is my routine:

I see the bill in the mail, open it to see the due date and write it on my wall calendar a week before the due date. I stick the bill to the fridge.

 

My wall calendar is in a visible spot and I use it everyday to keep track of meds. I cross bills off when they are paid. If I'm concerned about missing it I circle it.

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I type up a reusable list of everything that is due each month (including credit card payments, health insurance) and the due date for each thing. All of the bills are listed in chronological order by due date. I print out a new one at the beginning of each month. Each time a bill gets paid, it gets checked off the list. Some of them are paid online, so I just check those off after I make an online payment. There is also an entry for transferring money from the checking account each month into savings/college funds. I check that off when that is done. When everything is checked off, I throw it away and make a clean copy for the next month. I keep this sheet in a folder with all the bills.

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It is comforting to know I am not alone in thinking this is difficult!  One would think I could figure out how to do this -- but I have a lot of kids and distractions, and have trouble getting organized.

 

I like the idea of setting aside a "pay bills" date twice a month, and trying to organize the bills into batches to pay on one of those dates.  And then maybe I should try to make up a list of due dates.  I guess they are all usually on the same date each month?  I never bothered to look. 

 

For now, I am stressed and frazzled about credit cards as I just missed a payment and got charged interest and a fee.  So I'm thinking I will put my two credit card bills on auto-pay for now, until I get myself organized.  I don't love the idea of auto-pay, as I'm worried about what happens if there is a dispute with a company -- but for now, the more likely possibility is that I'll miss a payment and get more interest charges and late fees.

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I have a twice a month system as well.  I have pay days marked on the calendar.  When a bill comes in the mail I will look to see when it is due.  Then I sort the bills into a pile of ones that can be paid with monies in the first pay day and a pile that can be paid with monies from the second pay day. I have color coded file folders for each set of bills - one color for the earlier payday and another color for the later one.  I also have a different color folder for medical bills because those are more involved and I have to pull EOBs to make sure that they sent it to insurance first. I make sure to give enough time for the payment to arrive.  I pay very few bills by check now but even some online payments can have a lag between when you pay it and when it arrives at its destination because in some cases the bank actually cuts and sends a check. 

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I use on-line bill pay.  Some stuff I have set to pay automatically and don't have to do anything each month. Some stuff is mailed and as soon as I get it, I set up the bill pay.  I don't set it aside and say I'll get to it later because then it might get buried under my crap or I'll forget.  And that is it really. 

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I also just got an iPhone, and am eager to try out finance-management apps so that I don't have to manually enter due dates somewhere.  I have heard that Mint is good at organizing bills due -- you have to log into all of your accounts through it, but it keeps track of due dates and reminders for you.

 

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For the random middle of the month bills, I put reminders on my Google Calendar.  

 

I get email bills too which helps.  I pay almost everything via online banking, or the company e-bill pay, so that makes it easy to do, without searching for stamps, etc.

 

My one credit card is always due on the first of the month, which makes it easy to remember.  Mortgage/rent have always been the first of the month ever since I was 19 and in my first apartment...so easy to remember too. :)

Edited by umsami
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Oh and with the bills I do not get in the mail, I get e-mail reminders OR I set up a reminder via the bank's bill pay.  And as soon as I see that e-mail, I deal with it immediately. 

 

 

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dh keeps everything in a drawer - bills are in envelops sorted by dates.

he's also an accountant and is into it multiple times every single day.

 

have you tried some of the software that tracks it, so you know by which date you must pay which bill?

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As soon as a bill comes in I write on the envelope how much it is and when it's due.  Then it goes into a pile of bills sorted by due date.  We only have a couple of things we don't get paper bills for.  With those I have a separate piece of paper with the name on it (Walmart, Mortgage, etc) and the due date that also goes into the pile so they don't get forgotten.

 

Generally twice per month I pay the bills.  (I'm doing it this morning TBH!)

 

However, hubby is self employed so occasionally doesn't get paid himself (from his clients) on time.  During those times I look at due dates and pay what we can out of what we have.  Almost always it works out that he gets his money from clients in time for me to pay our bills by their due dates.  Once in a while I need to switch money from other accounts we have, but I try not to do that if I don't have to - hence - paying more than twice per month when necessary.  We don't keep extra in our checking account as that's not financially our best deal.  (Some extra, yes, but not thousands.)

 

We both consider this one of my "jobs," so I put whatever effort I need to in order to do my job well - easy when easy works, more effort when easy is not an option.

 

Having mostly paper bills in a pile filed by date helps considerably.

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I pay all the bills for two weeks ON payday. I don't much see the sense of waiting for the due date when I have the money and know I won't be getting more for 14 days.

 

That does sometimes mean looking ahead to the following two weeks and maybe paying even earlier if there's less money to be paid in one period and more the next.

 

I don't let paper bills in my house, except medical. I keep a paper list with all the due dates in my financial binder, whip it out every other Friday, and get it done.

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I am the payer of the bills at my house.  We are fortunate and able to pay without waiting for payday.  The only bills I've paid late in the last few years were ones where I didn't get a paper copy and that was only twice I think.  I open my mail and put ALL bills in a folder on my kitchen desk -- my husband will be able to find them easily if something were to happen to me -- LOL.  I don't like auto pay (my health insurance is the only thing on auto pay), but I pay via on-line banking.  I look through my folder each Monday while having coffee and see what is coming due and pay that morning.  Wash and repeat the following Monday.  I do shred my paper bills once they clear the bank.  

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I like the "every Monday" idea.  That way I would be sure not to miss anything.  We don't need to wait for payday either, so this *should* be really easy for me.  It all comes out of the checking account, and there is always more than enough in it, so I don't know why I can't just pay the bills . . .

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I like the "every Monday" idea. That way I would be sure not to miss anything. We don't need to wait for payday either, so this *should* be really easy for me. It all comes out of the checking account, and there is always more than enough in it, so I don't know why I can't just pay the bills . . .

It's probably not all that uncommon. Dh is a smart person, but there's a real reason that I pay the bills!!!

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I have auto pay for some (cell phones, and the internet cuts $10 off the bill if we use autopay), and for the others, I know which paycheck they come out of.  I don't care if the bill isn't actually due for three more weeks; if it comes out of the first paycheck of the month, I deposit that check (small company, no direct deposit) and take thirty seconds sometime in the next couple of days to get on my bank's site and pay the bills from that check.  I am typically paying a bit early in some cases.  For instance, I paid January's tuition for martial arts over a week ago.  If I had trouble remembering to go pay those bills, I'd set up a reminder on my phone for certain days, like the Tuesday after payday or something.

 

Also, my mortgage company will send me an email if I haven't sent the payment a couple of days before the due date.  One of my credit cards will too.

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It’s all automated. I set up the monthly transaction through the company’s website. I just double check my accounts daily to make sure that everything is in order. If I get a bill that only needs a single payment, I try to pay it immediately so I don’t forget.

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I do e-checks which are not as invisible to me as autopay but have a lot of the convenience.

 

About once every week I sit down and pay all the bills that have come in. If they are not due for some time yet, I change the send date so I keep my money as long as I can.

 

The ones that are the same amount every month are set up as a recurring payment and all I have to do is click “sendâ€.

 

I used to dread paying the bills —checks stamps envelopes go to the PO, but now I am merely annoyed.

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We use Quicken, which makes it easy to keep track of when bills are due. We use our CC for just about all purchases and make a payment on those every week or two rather than waiting for a statement. Paying those more often eliminates worrying about missing a payment or paying any interest.

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I have as many bills as possible on auto pay.

 

All our utilities

Mortgage

Car loan

Kids' extracurriculars

Internet and phone service

 

I pay the credit card bill online, and I try to pay medical bills as they come in.

Edited by maize

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1. Put everything on autopay that you can.

 

2. Create two bins. Label one ‘Pay on the 1st’ and the other ‘Pay on the 15th†(or whatever two dates work for you to PAY them . . . not DUE dates.)

 

3. Whennpaper bills come in, put them in one of these two bins.

 

4. Set a calendar reminder twice a month to pull a bill bin and pay it.

 

5. Rewards yourself with something nice because you saved so much in late fees; maybe start a vacation account with those savings. If you’re like me, you’ll get a trip to the movies or a weekend getaway out of those savings.

 

 

Yep. This is totally my new year’s resolution.

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I have my utility bills and others automatically withdrawn from my checking account. Easy-peasy. I'm done. 

For those bills which come in randomly (medical bills, whatever), I just pay them right then. Done. 

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Currently I just have things on autopay, but years ago before I did that, I used to simply have a rule that I paid bills the day I got them.  I basically didn't allow an option of filing the bill somewhere unpaid.  The day I got it I had to write the check and then I could file the paid bill.  It just wasn't an option not to pay things the day I got them, so it was a habit and I never really thought about it.  

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I don't do autopay, but dh gets paid weekly.  I have it set up in my calendar to send me a reminder at 9am on that day each week to pay that week's bills, just in case I miss something during the budget meeting we do.  Each reminder is set up to repeat monthly.  I choose the week for the bill based on a 1-2 week lead for when it's due.

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I set everything on auto-pay, even bills that change amounts monthly.  I see what the bill typically runs and pay that.  Then, if I get to the actual bill on time, I edit the amount.  If I don't get to the actual bill on time, at least I don't get a late fee.  I don't do e-billing, just auto-pay.  So for some bills, my bank actually has to mail out a physical check.  Some bills they send the funds electronically.  We have a credit union and don't get charged to use auto-pay.  Love it!

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Long long long, sorry.

 

I have two Inboxes for bills and receipts: a wire basket on my desk for paper bills/receipts and a unique email that I forward online receipts and digital bills to (this is the ONLY thing I use this email address for. DH also forwards his digital receipts to this address).

 

I am diligent about sorting mail and emails, so I'm confident that all the money stuff is in one of those two locations.

 

Every Wednesday I sit down at my desk to do Money Work.

 

I go through my wire basket and pull out all the bills and pay them. I also keep my checkbook, envelopes, stamps, and our car loan payment coupons in a zippered pencil holder (like that goes in a binder) on my desk so everything is there. Then I stick the payment envelopes in my purse so I remember to take them to the mailbox the next time I leave the house.

 

Next, I log into that unique email address and tag all the bills. I go to the company websites and pay those by credit card (which is paid off monthly). I save the pdf bill and a "print to pdf" version of the payment confirmation number to my computer.

 

Then I go through both the paper and digital receipts and enter those into our paper-based budget system.

 

I try to do this weekly because it keeps the overall time-on-task shorter and ensures the bills get paid on time without tracking due dates.

 

Also, if I MISS a week's Money Work, waiting until the next week to address it again is usually not a big deal. Most bills have more than 2 weeks of wiggle room. I just have to remember to not miss two in a row... so the goal of weekly works well for me.

 

*Another reason this system works, and this is some thing I think everyone should do if at all possible, is to live off of LAST MONTH'S income. You don't have to worry about meshing due dates with pay days or emergency expenses busting your budget. I do understand not everyone can do this, but if you have money in savings that you can "sacrifice" for that initial month, I highly recommend it. Major stress reliever.

Edited by carriede
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I pay online from our checking account ( I don't go to each site and pay the vendor. Just all in one place through our bank).

 

Dh gets paid every two weeks. I go in on his payday and pay whatever is due close to that date. The bulk get paid at the first payday of the month and a few get paid on the next paycheck. So kind of two groups of bills that get paid on alternating paydays. I am able to keep that straight in my head. I do that on payday- like I wake up on payday and pay bills right away while I drink my coffee.

 

Random bills that come in get paid next payday. I enter everything into our bank online payment center and I can glance down the list and see if anything is outstanding.

 

Medical bills get paid out of our HSA account. I also do that online. We have a surplus in there right now and those bills are usually small. I generally pay those right away (as in I open it on my way in from the mailbox and walk to my computer and pay it).

 

While I like paying my bills online- I do not like receiving electronic bills. I still like getting the paper bills in the mail. It is more organized in that they come in once a day and at a time I am expecting them. I don't like electronic statements and bills coming to my email at random times. I like to walk to my mailbox when I'm prepared to deal with what I will find in there.

 

I admit that I hold all of it in my head pretty well and rarely forget. I will say that I LOVE paying bills. I like sitting down first thing on payday and settling it all up for the next two weeks. We really struggled early in our marriage and the ability to just pay all the bills a couple weeks before they are even due is very satisfying to me. So- maybe find a way to make it fun or to feel accomplished? I enjoy checking all the payment boxes and having it done 🙂

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I made a spreadsheet.  at the top is the paydates and amount expected.  I think have a main column with a list of our all bills.  I also have the due date on that line for each item.  Then I look at our paydates and put the bill on the payday before it is due.  Our paydates are every other week so the dates vary.  And yes, some months I have to save up for a bill or I wouldn't have enough to pay everything.  Luckily it's about twice a year the dates aren't perfect and I have to adjust.  

 

It also let's me look ahead to see where I can save up for big items.  I needed tires and brakes this fall. I saved up the tires first while waiting on a coupon for the brakes and when the coupon showed up I had the money saved for the brakes.  

 

I think people need a system to keep track of it.  Maybe I just need it HAHAHA  but it helps being able to look at that budget and know my bills will be covered.  I also keep track of electric/gas bills every month.  So when I budget those I can adjust.  Our summer bill is low, the winter bill is high.  I  budget $20 over last year's monthly charge and so far it's been enough and it's nice to have extra money if it's lower than expected.  

 

my spreadsheet is important and nothing is paid without me looking at it first.  

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We have everything automated.  I set up a second checking account, have a recurring transfer for the amount of our bills and the companies do direct deposit.  The recurring transfer is set up for transferring two days after payday so actually I don't think about paying bills at all.

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I use Google calendar to let DH know when things are due, but I try as much as possible to just pay everything on the 1st online (manually; I don't like auto pay).  The one that I can't do this with is water, which is due at the end of the month and doesn't roll over until mid-month.  Also, I also check our bank account several times per week and balance the ledger just as frequently.  DH advised against apps, but I'm home a lot, so sticking with my laptop for fiances isn't a big deal.  I use Excel for our the ledger and other tracking methods.  It's probably scary if you don't enjoy Excel, though.  :D

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My DH uses digital banking and auto bank where available. You do need to schedule checking the numbers to make sure everything looks as it should. But the other thing we do is put reminders with notifications on google calendar when we need them. We use google calendar for everything and that helps both DH and I a bunch.

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I have automatic payments set up for each of dh’s Paydays, for 1/26 of the anticipated annual amount for each bill. Power, gas, and water do fluctuate, so if one ends up accruing a balance I pay that extra individual amount. For the most part, we end up far enough ahead that if something catastrophic were to happen, we wouldn’t have to worry about the bill Right This Instant. Annual things like car resgistration and property taxes also have 1/26 taken out and put into a separate account.

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I have automatic payments set up for each of dh’s Paydays, for 1/26 of the anticipated annual amount for each bill. Power, gas, and water do fluctuate, so if one ends up accruing a balance I pay that extra individual amount. For the most part, we end up far enough ahead that if something catastrophic were to happen, we wouldn’t have to worry about the bill Right This Instant. Annual things like car resgistration and property taxes also have 1/26 taken out and put into a separate account.

 

This is one thing I don't know how to deal with.  I'd set everything up on autopay, but I can't figure out how that'll work when the amount varies or the due date varies.  I don't have to do all that much (I don't write checks or anything) so it's not that big of a problem, but certain bills cannot really be done on autopay because of those factors.

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All of our bills are due within the first 13 days of the month that I have to pay, so on or about the 3rd, I just pay them all through our bank bill paying app.

 

Anything due after the 15th is auto-pay deducted straight from our account or debit card, so I only have to remember to pay bills once per month.

 

My favorite budgeting app is YNAB, but it’s not a due-date tracker, as far as I know. I use an older version, so they might have added a due-date feature in newer versions.

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This is one thing I don't know how to deal with.  I'd set everything up on autopay, but I can't figure out how that'll work when the amount varies or the due date varies.  I don't have to do all that much (I don't write checks or anything) so it's not that big of a problem, but certain bills cannot really be done on autopay because of those factors.

 

We have two forms of autopay: one deducts the amount (whatever is due) each month.  Obviously this could be hard for budgeting.  The other kind smooths payments over the year, so you set a level that should cover it, and you can increase or decrease as necessary by just looking at the account.

Edited by Laura Corin
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