4 Ways To Stay On Top Of Your Bills
If you have a lot of moving parts in your life, it can be a little tricky to stay on top of your bills all the time and that's just the honest truth but it's important that you make it a priority otherwise you can end up paying dearly for it. I had a recent experience that reminded me why staying on top of my bills is key - here's what happened!
"If you have a lot of moving parts in your life, it can be a little tricky to stay on top of your bills all the time it's important that you make it a priority."
A bill collector came by my house to let me know that he was disconnecting our gas because we hadn't paid our gas bill in months to the tune of $793 dollars and my account was now in their collections file.
The first thing that came to my mind was, "wwhhhaaatttt? That can't be possible!"
I mean, I pride myself on teaching people how to manage their money and here comes a bill collector knocking at my door (with some nerve by the way) talking about I owe $793. How embarrassing!
For a second (actually, more like a long minute), he caught me off guard. I was on the verge of panic. And then I realized........It COULDN'T be possible. Like.....IMPOSSIBLE.
Thank Goodness for smartphones. I got myself together and then whipped up my online account, showed him my payment history and was like "Excuse me? You said I owe what again?" (complete with my eye roll to counter his nerve....yes. I'm petty like that).
Come to find out, part of our gas company was sold several months ago, but due to a glitch in their systems, our old account was not moved over to the new company and the old company was happily still sending us bills and collecting our money.
Imagine if I didn't have my records ready to show him so he could go back and investigate. First, he would have disconnected our gas. Then I would have wasted time on the phone with the gas company, and wasted more time searching around my house for old bills trying to figure stuff out AND on top of all that I would have had to pay a reconnection fee and who knows how long it would have taken them to come back reconnect my gas.........annoyance for days!
The takeaway from this story?
Glitches happen. And many times they can be out of our control but if you have a plan or backup in place, you can deal with things quickly and get back to your business.
All of that being said, here are 4 ways to stay on top of your bills:
1. Keep a list of everything
If you don't already have a list or some sort of documentation of every bill you pay for each month as well as how to access your bill statements and payment history, you definitely want to get on it asap. As part of the way I manage my finances, I keep a list of all my bills, accounts and logins in an encrypted file on my phone and also on my computer. Having that list saved me so much hassle when the bill collector showed up on our doorstep.
2. Include all of your bills in your budget
Make a list of every single bill and put it in your budget this way you are less likely to forget you have a bill to pay and you can keep track of all the payments you are making to your providers. Seeing your bills in your budget once a month will also give you a chance to review how much you are spending on each bill and if it seems too much or you notice any increases, then you can start looking for cheaper / more affordable options for the services you are paying for.
3. Automate payments and review each month
Automating your bill payments can make managing your finances so much easier and you can either automate payments through your providers or through your bank. To make sure automating your finances doesn't become a hassle (e.g. where you are worrying about when you'll get paid vs. when you'll have the funds available in your account), consider calling up your providers to adjust your due dates to be around your pay dates. Many providers will oblige as long as you are not moving the dates outside of your billing cycle that could cause a missed payment.
4. Check your credit frequently
Checking your credit frequently using a credit monitoring tool like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame, will let you know if any negative reports are made regarding any of your accounts and their associated bills; It could be a bill you've forgotten about or a service you never signed up for. If this ever happens, you can quickly reach out to your providers to resolve things.
Bola Sokunbi is the founder of Clever Girl Finance and she's passionate about helping women take control of their money so they can live life on their own terms.