How to Organize Your Bill-Paying Process

woman holding up a bill and looking at smartphone

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In addition to many other responsibilities, many working moms also take on the job of paying the family's monthly bills. For some of you, this might be one of your least favorite tasks. However, it's an important one. Without an organized system for paying bills, payments can be late or missed altogether, resulting in late fees, penalties, and higher interest rates. Late payments can also ruin your credit.

You can use this step-by-step solution to organize your bill-paying process and keep it organized. You'll need a computer, a set of plastic or cardboard drawers, a trash can, a paper shredder, red pen, notebook, highlighter, 10" x 13" envelopes, and stamps.

Find a Bill-Paying Station

Paying bills will be quicker and easier if you have a specific bill-paying station you can sit at. It doesn't have to be a large space: a small table in the corner of your kitchen, a shelf in your home office, or simply a basket to hold your bill-paying tools and supplies.

Organize Your Paper Bills

Most companies have a paperless billing option these days, but if you still get some paper bills then you can follow these steps to process them. Open them as soon as they arrive.

Using a red pen, make note of the due date and the amount owed on the front of each envelope. Pay close attention to due dates since they're not always the same each month. When you read through your bill, highlight any charges that you question so that you'll be able to easily follow up on these issues later. 

Recycle any envelope stuffers that don't include any personal information like special offers or promotions for other products. Shred anything that has personal information on it. If you don't own a shredder then you can find one that you can use at an office supply store for a small fee.

Last, store your unpaid bills in the top drawer of your plastic or cardboard drawer system.

Organize Your Electronic Bills and Statements

Use a separate email address for electronic bills, bank statements, investment statements, etc. This will ensure that you don't overlook an electronic bill in the midst of the other emails you receive.

View your online bills and statements as soon as you receive the emails. Confirm that you are in agreement with all of the charges and the amount due. If you find a discrepancy, then print out the document, highlight the charge, and place the paper in the top drawer of your plastic or cardboard drawer system along with your unpaid paper bills. If you don't have access to a printer, make note of the issue in your notebook and place the notebook in the same drawer. You'll deal with any discrepancies later in this process.

Next, forward each email to your personal email address and change the subject line to include the entity owed, due date, and amount due. For example, GA Gas, 6-28-2019, $78. 

Create an email folder on your computer or cloud storage for each month and year. You can name it "Online Bills—[Month] 2019.". After you've reviewed each online bill and forwarded it to yourself, save it in the monthly folder you created. 

Schedule a Weekly Time to Pay Your Bills

Schedule 30 minutes each week to pay your bills. Block this time off on your calendar just as you would any other appointment. This is also a good time to review your online bank account for accuracy.

Go to your bill-paying station and remove the paper bills from your to-be-paid drawer. Then log on to your computer and open this month's to-be-paid folder. If you highlighted any questions or discrepancies, make calls to these institutions first.

If you can't reach anyone, add this task to your to-do list for the next day. Make note of your account number, the customer service phone number, and your specific question.

Pay Your Bills

If you want to organize your bills efficiently and effectively, consider online bill payments. There are two common types of online bill pay options:

While it may take you a longer to initially set up online bill payments, you'll save time during each subsequent month by paying your bills online. In both online bill-paying scenarios, you'll be given a confirmation number as part of the transaction. Make note of this information either on the bill itself or keep a master list of monthly transactions in your notebook.

If you're not paying some or all of your bills online then write out your check, record the transaction in your check register, use the return envelope provided in most bills and statements, and stamp the envelope. Be sure to factor mail time into your process.

While you won't have a confirmation number, you should still make note of the transaction on the bill itself or on your master list of monthly transactions. Make sure to also include your check number.

File the Paper Copies of Your Bill

Create a 10" x 13" envelope for each month. Once you're done paying the bills, place the paper copies in the appropriate month's envelope along with your master list of transactions (that will also include information on the bills you receive electronically). If any of these bills are needed for tax purposes, make a copy and file it with your yearly tax documents.