With the rising cost of utilities, paying the bills can be expensive enough without extra charges for late payments as a result of forgetting to pay the bills on time. And in a busy world, it’s easy to forget to pay the bills. Having a bill payment system gets the bills paid on time and prevents late payment charges.
The simplest system for paying the bills is to keep them all together in one place and pay them once a week / fortnight / month or before each bill falls due. However, with many bills now being sent electronically and monthly recurring amounts or contract amounts generating no monthly invoices at all, it can be easy to forget to pay a few bills without a visual reminder.
A calendar or diary (either paper or electronic) can supplement your bill paying system. Record on your calendar when your bills fall due for payment and when you will pay them. Alternatively, you can use a bill payment worksheet to keep a record of all your bills and when they need to be paid. I have developed a bill payment worksheet that you can download and use.
Download The Frugal and Thriving Bill Payment Worksheet (PDF)
Systematise your bill paying to make it quicker, easier and to ensure you don’t get overdue notices:
- Choose a day that is convenient for you each week, fortnight or month that is ‘bill paying day’. I like to pay the bills the day after each fortnightly pay day.
- Keep all bills together in one place so that they don’t get lost or forgotten. Close to where you will actually pay your bills is a good place, or it might be in a folder or stuck to the fridge. Don’t sort them or file them at this stage.
- Keep a record of the bills that you need to pay, their due date and when you plan to pay the on either your calendar (paper or electronic) or on the bill payment worksheet. This is particularly important if you get bills electronically and don’t print them out or have recurring payments. It can be easy to forget if you don’t have a visual reminder.
- Record the due date as at least three working days prior to the actual due date on the bill. This allows time for the payment to be processed. Allowing for processing time is necessary even if you pay electronically as some BPAY payments can take several working days to clear.
- As an example, if I pay the bills every Friday and next week is Friday the 21st and I have a phone bill due on the 29th (after the following Friday) I would have to make sure that it was paid at least three working days before the due date so I would have to pay it on the 21st with any other bills due.
- Paying electronically is the quickest and easiest way to do things now. If you do pay by cheque via post, have all of your envelopes etc together ready for bill paying to make the process quicker. You could address a year’s worth of envelopes etc for even speedier bill payment.
- As you pay your bills immediately record the payment, either directly on the paper bill or on your calendar / bill payment worksheet for bills without paper statements. Record how you pay, the date, the amount, cheque or receipt numbers.
- File away paid bills and don’t forget to enter the amounts in your budget :)
- To make paying recurring bills easier, set up either a direct debit with your institution or schedule payments to come out automatically using your internet or phone banking. I personally prefer the latter option, as others cannot automatically deduct amounts from my bank account and I have the control to cancel payments at any time, but with certain bills (as with loans and mortgages) you don’t have the choice. With either option it is important to ensure that you have adequate funds available for when the payments are scheduled otherwise you have to pay bank fees instead or the funds may not come out.
- To make bill paying even easier, call the companies that you deal with and get them to change the billing dates so that they all fall due at the same time (straight after pay day) and you can pay them all at once.
Having a bill payment system doesn’t reduce the cost of the bills, but it does ensure that you aren’t paying overdue fees, which can add up over the course of a year if missing bill payments is a regular occurrence.