How to Stay on Top of Your Bills

May 19, 2017

One of the biggest financial challenges many of us face is trying to stay on top of our bills. Sometimes we find ourselves falling behind — and then it’s hard to get caught back up.

So, how do you stay on top of your bills each month? How can you keep from falling behind? Here are a few suggestions that can help you transform the way you manage your bills and potentially avoid falling behind with your money:

Look at Your Cash Flow

One of the first things to do is look at your cash flow. How often are you paid? And when your bills due?

I noticed at one point that I had my bills loaded toward the front of the month. However, due to the nature of my work, I was often paid two or three times a month. Having everything at the front of the month meant that there wasn’t money for some bills. I’d have to wait for another payment — and pay late.

When I started paying attention to cash flow, and noticing patterns in when I was paid, I made a few phone calls to change due dates. Spreading my bill due dates throughout the month allowed me to get on top of my bills more effectively. I could match up my bills with when I had money.

Once you understand the timing associated with your income and your bills, you can make tweaks so that you aren’t scrambling to catch up.

Automate Your Bills

Automating my bills has been one of the best ways for me to stay on top of things. When you automate your bills, you don’t have to think about whether or not you have paid the bill, and you don’t have to worry about whether you are going to pay on time.

I like automating my bill payments because I don’t have to worry about it when I’m on vacation, and I can keep up with everything fairly easily.

However, automation will only help you stay on top of your bills if you have a handle on your cash flow already. If you automate your bills and you don’t have the money available, it doesn’t do you any good to automatically have a bunch of returned transactions.

Get your cash flow figured out, and then use automation to make sure all your bills are paid on time and in full.

Consider Credit Cards

For some expenses, it’s possible to automate using credit cards. You can use your credit card to pay recurring bills like utilities and gym memberships. I use mine for everything I can. There are some bills, like the mortgage and your car loan, that won’t allow you to use credit card. H

However, with the bills that allow you to use credit cards, consider it — as long as you have your spending under control and can pay off the card each month.

I like to set my credit cards to pay the minimum payment from my checking account automatically so I don’t have to worry about it. Then, once a month, I reconcile all my accounts and pay off the credit cards. Having the minimum paid automatically, though, means that I can choose which day of the month I manage all of it because I don’t have to worry about due dates.

One of the main benefits of using credit cards to pay as many bills as possible is the fact that I get rewards points. As long as you pay off the balance each month, those rewards points can be worth it.

Cut Out Unnecessary Bills

Finally, review your spending. What things do you buy that you don’t need, or even really want? Which recurring bills are sucking you dry? I recently cut cable in order to just use streaming services. I save a ton each month. I also quit the gym membership and instead got a less-expensive membership to the city aquatic center for lap swimming.

You can do the same thing. Decide which things are really worth the cost, and keep those. Stop paying for what doesn’t matter to you.

Figure out what is holding you back, and trim those items from the budget. You’ll have few bills to worry about and save a lot more money going forward.

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