Organize paying bills
Habits of the financially savvy when dealing with paperwork.
Protect your credit score, make a financial plan and get organized by changing your bill routine. Misplaced bills, late payments and forgotten invoices can impact credit scores, penalties and create a lot of stress. Protect your money, organize your finances and help prevent a headache with these suggestions.
Organizing bills and paperwork at home
- Get a filing cabinet or box. Create two sections labeled "permanent" and "active". Keep documents that are completed but need to be accessible such as tax records in the permanent section, arranged alphabetically. Bills and other items that still need action go in the active section. Hard-to-replace documents such as vehicle titles, stocks and bond certificates and property deeds should be kept in a safe-deposit box.
- Discard old documents. Sort through your active files at least once a year and toss anything unnecessary. Move paperwork that is inactive but still needs to be kept to the permanent section of your files. Learn more about which financial records you should keep and which you can toss.
- Organize remaining paper bills. Have a designated area to pay bills and set aside a time weekly to review or mail them.
- Prioritize your bills. Review each bill and make sure you set a priority to it. One strategy to help balance your spending and saving is using the 50/30/20 rule.
- Don't let mail pile up. It's tempting to throw mail in the "I'll get to it later" pile. Break that habit. Open your mail the day you get it and decide whether it gets filed or tossed.
- Reduce your paper footprint. Sign up for paperless billing wherever you can. Also think about cutting back on the number of credit cards you have and consolidating financial accounts, if possible. Fewer bills means less time spent paying them.
- Use online bill pay. Online account and banking services let you track activity, pay bills and transfer funds whenever, wherever. Many online banking services let you download your transactions to financial management software.
- Use automatic payments. Setting up your payments to automatically draw from a bank account is an easy way to get organized and reduce paper bills. You can set up a separate email address just for your billing notices to go to as an easy way to keep track.
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