If you have ever paid late fees, I’m sure you would agree that no one wants to pay more than the invoice lists. However, when bills go missing in a pile of paper or digital files you have no choice but to pay the additional late fees.
Is finding your bills, knowing where to keep them, and figuring out how to get them paid on time adding stress and anxiety to your life?
You are in the right place. No one wants to pay late fees and none of us need to add stress or anxiety to our lives. As a professional organizer I regularly guide my clients to create systems for tracking their papers (digital and hardcopy) so that bills and important paperwork do not get lost.
When you have a system for tracking bills and filing important documents you are in control of your paperwork and can have confidence that no bill will escape your notice and go unpaid. Today my focus is on tracking bills to avoid late fees.
Here are my 3 best tips to help you avoid paying late fees:
Create a Bill Pay Folder
Whether you get your bills in the mail or email you can take control of them by creating a bill pay folder. If it is a paper bill, write the date due clearly at the top of the page. Take a minute to think about when you are going to pay the bill and then also write that date on the top of the bill.
If you get your bills by email, create a bill pay folder in your email server. Move the message over to the folder and flag it with the date you plan to pay the bill.
Schedule Payments once a week
Avoid those late fees by going into the bill pay folders once a week. Look through the paper invoices and determine which ones you will pay that week. Write the checks and then plan a time to go to the post office.
Please do not put your payments in the mailbox at the end of your driveway. Take those envelopes directly to your local post office. This way you can be sure the vendor will receive the payment.
Once the bill is paid, write the check number and the date paid on the invoice and then file it.
You may have a folder for utility bills, credit card bills, or mortgage payments. Label the folder in a way that makes sense to you so that you will be able to find it if you need to. This puts you in complete control of your paperwork.
If you pay your bills online, once a week schedule the payments which will be due soon. You can print the invoices and then file them or save paper and track the payments using a small notebook.
Use a small notebook
I use a small notebook to track my bills and payments. This puts me in complete control of my payments since I pay almost all my bills online.
You can organize the notebook in a way that make sense to you. I’m going to share the way in which I organized my notebook as an example.
- Write the month and year at the top of the page.
- List the regular bills.
- Then write the date due, date paid, and confirmation number.
This system works well for me because if I get a reminder email from a vendor saying something like your bill is due soon, I can look in my small bill paying notebook and see if I have paid the bill.
If I have, then I say to myself ‘no worries!’. If by chance I have not yet paid the invoice I will schedule it right away and avoid the late fees. Then I delete the reminder email.
My small notebook puts me in control of my paperwork and takes the stress and anxiety away from paying bills for me because I have one place in which I track all the invoices. It also reduces the amount of paper I keep.
If paperwork and bill paying is something that is adding stress and anxiety to your life, consider joining the Clear Space for You clutter support group that Jonda Beattie and I run together. We will guide you to create a system that works for you either paper or digital and put you back in control.
Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing and in working with people affected by ADD, Hoarding, and chronic disorganization. Diane and Jonda Beattie are the best-selling authors of: Filled Up and Overflowing.