how will i pay my bills?

Before you know it, you will venture out to your mailbox, only to find bills from various companies all expecting you to send them money.  It’s not quite as exciting as when Grandma sends you $5 for your birthday!  When you’re out on your own, especially if you’re living in an apartment or a house, you will be amazed at the number of bills that  come your  way.  Bills for Internet service, cell phone, home phone, car insurance, electricity, water,  trash, cable, magazine subscriptions, car payments, school loans, and credit cards are just a few of the bills that will come to visit you.  Oh, and of course, you have rent!

Paying your bills isn’t rocket science, but you have to be disciplined with both your time and your money.  There is a delicate tightrope you must walk, balancing the bills you owe and the money you have.  Add in the obstacle that you only get paid at certain times of the month (weekly, biweekly, bimonthly) but your bills will be due on different dates during the month, which can create some cash flow issues.  Paying bills requires creating and sticking to a budget, so that when a bill is due, you have the money available to pay it.

So how do you actually pay your bills?  Thankfully, it really isn’t too difficult.  Basically, you will get a bill in the mail saying that you owe a certain amount of money.  You should always double check the bill to make sure it is accurate.  Once every few months, I will find something wrong with a bill.  It is usually not anything major, but you don’t want to pay an extra $5 for a service you didn’t order, right?  The other key piece of information on a bill is the due date.  Most companies will allow some extra time as a grace period, but try to get in the habit of paying all your bills early or on time.  By doing this, you not only avoid getting killed with late fees (which can be anywhere from a few bucks to $50 with some credit card companies), but you are also establishing good credit.  Once you have checked this information, there are a couple of different ways you can actually pay the bill.

However you choose to pay your bills, you have to create a system for it.  Do it the same way every time, so you don’t send payments late,  you always have the money to pay the bills, and of course, you don’t let bills go unpaid by letting them fall through the cracks.  Some people write out a check when the bill arrives, stick it in an envelope, and put a sticky note on it with the date to drop it in the mail.  Whenever I get a bill, I set it aside in a folder with the rest of the bills.  Then once a week, I pull out any bills in that folder and pay them.  This way I’m only paying bills a couple times each month and not every day.  That is what works for me, but you have to determine what makes sense for you.

The other thing that I would highly recommend is to check with your bank to see if they have an online bill pay service.  I use this with my bank and pay all my bills through this system.  I just go online to the bank’s website, log in, click which bills I want to pay, enter in the amount to pay and choose which date I want the bill to be paid on.  When that date comes, the bank will either transfer the funds or mail a check to the company for me.  How cool is that?!

Another option you may want to consider is having certain bills automatically drafted from your checking account.  This means that on a specific date each month, the company you owe the money to will transfer a certain amount out of your checking account to cover that month’s bill.  This works extremely well if they bill you for the same amount each month and if it is always due on the same date.  Once you set it up, it is automatic, and you don’t have to stress about it.  If you go this route, make sure you always have the money there on the date they make the withdrawal for the bill.  If you don’t have enough money in your account to cover the bill, the bank and the bill company will drill you with fees.  The last thing you want to do is waste money on fees.

However you decide to pay your bills, develop a system and follow it.  Here’s the deal: if you don’t pay a bill, the company will stop providing that service to you.  If you don’t pay your electricity bill,  the  utility company will turn your lights off.  If you don’t pay your cell phone bill, your phone will stop working some random day.  If you don’t pay your car payment, you will soon be walking everywhere!  So get organized and pay your bills.  (I don’t want you to freeze to death in your own house because you didn’t pay the heating bill!)

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