Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Paying The Bills: A Question For My Readers

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Around our house, I take care of making sure the bills get paid. This works best for us, since my husband is buried under a pile of text books and has to be dug out each night around supper time.

My method for bill paying is to immediately send payment for each one as it comes in the mail ("God willing and the creek don't rise..."). If I'm diligent with that, then bills don't get missed. Otherwise, they get hidden in stacks of paper and risk being forgotten (eeeek!). I also sit down at the end of the month to balance the budget and pay all the bills that are due at the end of the month. Since we use Dave Ramsey's envelope system for most of our daily/weekly expenses, the bank account does not have to be balanced more than once or twice a month.

I used to have a fancy "Monthly Bills" chart, but found that I never filled it out...so it went away.

My question for you is this: What system do you use to make sure all of your bills get paid on time? Also, who manages the finances in your home and why? 

While I am the one doing the check writing/account balancing in our household, my husband and I try to have a "budget meeting" each month to review how well we've stayed within our budget and to make goals for the next month.



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15 comments:

  1. I do the upkeep of the finances, soley because Hubs is so swamped with work that it honestly would just not get done if it were up to him. We communicate about everything, but the truth is, we have yet to do a budget meeting to set "amounts." I just sort of go with the flow, Joe. But the truth is--I have not been brave enough to try the envelope system, but Hubs wants to. I am thinking I might have to go check out your budget meeting section and see what you guys do. Great post.

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  2. I put bills in a notebook when they arrive and put a sticky note in my purse calendar to remind me to pay them on the 15th and 30th.

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  3. I do the budgeting in our home. It just makes sense since I am first of all- the bigger shopper- it actually helps me reign myself in more because I KNOW exactly what we have and don't. Also being a military family- Jon may have to leave at some point, it makes it easier for me to just be already doing it then confused having to take over each time he leaves.
    I do the same thing you do it seems, I do bills all at once twice a month. Sit down and get them all done! Though I regularly check our account online in between, to make sure nothing is happening that shouldn't be.
    Jon and I also try to do allowances, maybe it sounds sorta juvenile, but it works for us and some other friends we got the idea from. We have so much a lotted to each of us monthly that we can use HOWEVER we want, without questions. And we do a little extra at birthdays of course, so we can get each other a gift. Best to do this with cash of course so you know exactly what you have and can't go over. I know friends who had a seperate account & card for their 'extra' spending money allowances too, but ours isn't really enough to do that yet!

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  4. Great question! I use Microsoft Money. There is a bill reminder on it, so I don't miss. :) I pay most bills online and some of those come electronically.

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  5. We don't do a good job of staying within budget, but this is the way we keep from missing bills. We have a "household balance sheet" in Excel that lists all of our bills, plus room for things that aren't every month (auto insurance, out of pocket medical expenses, etc.). I enter the amount due in the right row, the date due, when it's paid, and the confirmation or check number.

    This adds up all our monthly expenses, and lets us know where we spent more or less each month. It's easy to look at it the next thing due, and compare it with our online bank statement to see if we can cover it.

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  6. My husband does all of the bill paying. He has this incredible knack for remembering dates, so he just pays them off of the top of his head when he remembers that they are due. He has not missed a bill yet in our two years of marriage. All of our bills are paid online. We have a couple that are automated to come out every month. As far as budgeting goes, we have not really had one this year. My husband is in school, so we usually spend as little as possible, and trust God to provide the rest. I have felt convicted to budget out our financial aid this semester, so we will do this as soon as both of us have some time together.

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  7. My husband and I have a monthly budget meeting where we go over what was spent the previous month and set goals for the current month. However, I manage the day to day spending and bill paying. He manages our investments (savings).

    In order to not forget to pay a bill, as soon as it comes, I put it in a "bills to pay" folder and note in my planner on the day it needs to be paid. Once a week, on "desk" day, I double check the bill folder and pay whatever is due that week.

    I use Quicken to keep track of our spending, and then transfer the totals into an Excel spreadsheet that my husband created before each budget meeting.

    I've heard good things about the envelope system. We're able to consistently track on paper so we haven't felt the need to use that ourselves. We do set aside money each month for the big annual expenses (property tax and vacations) so they're not a surprise.

    Hope this helps!

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  8. My husband does 99.9% of all our bills. The two I do I pay online. I am no good at keep up with things since staying at home {and let's be real, it was a struggle before I stayed at home}, so I have to pay them as soon as they come, mark the bill paid and email me husband. Lord help us if I had to go a whole month paying the other bills. We'd be out of a house in no time! ;)

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  9. I open the mail as soon as it arrives. The bills go in a red file folder at the beginning of the file drawer I use for household stuff. I check the folder either on Sunday or Monday morning and write checks for the bills that need to be mailed at that time. I don't do online bill paying, but some insurance payments are automatically taken out of the checking account. I keep a running balance in my checkbook and track everything using Quicken. I've never paid a bill late and have never overdrawn the checking account.

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  10. We get paid bi-weekly. So we have a budget meeting every other week. Usually a couple days before payday, but sometimes on payday. We go over what we have, whats coming in & going out. And then plan accordingly. We keep a shared calendar on Google that has all the bills listed. So we get reminders on our phones & in email when they come due. But that's not what we really use it for. We simply pull up the calendar each meeting & see what falls in due between this pay & next pay, then pay it. Every once in awhile we put something off last time that could wait till this pay & have to remember to pay it then. So we keep a bill summary every time we do have this meeting with our decisions, like OK paying the credit card this time but HOA can wait till next time. Its basically a list of what bills we're paying that pay & how much we're paying. Then we put totals at the bottom(money coming in rent, paycheck ect..& the bank balance projected after bills paid). We keep the summary in Google docs & just have it above our list of confirmations from when we pay the bills online. So yea, just those 3 basic things we do together 2times a month really. Calendar, bill summary & confirmations. And its all saved in Google docs shared w/ each other. It sounds detailed, but it really only takes about 30-45 min. & we both know what to expect till next pay and beyond.

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  11. This is so timely! My husband just transferred all of the financial responsibilities to me (like your husband, mine is just too darn busy! and I would happily take a little more time with my hubs over having him slave away with bills on the weekends!) I'm also trying to figure out a plan to make sure all of our i's are dotted and t's crossed (and nothing gets missed!) can't wait to read all of the ideas!

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  12. Basically, bills go in a folder. On the first and 15th of each month, I grab the folder and my spreadsheet (so I know who I'm *supposed* to pay in each half of the month) and I pay bills online (free thru our bank account). Oh and I write "bills" on the 1st and 15th of each month on my calendar or else I'd never remember.

    I hate all things bills and financial but especially since switching to online bill pay, that parts not too bad.

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  13. Ladies, I've really enjoyed reading about all of your different methods...as "boring" and "adult" as this conversation about BILLS could seem! *lol*

    What I've gathered is this: I need to be using my calendar and writing down WHEN the bills are due and when I've paid them. This means I have to LOOK at my calendar. As in, pick it up and open it. I'm working on that.

    Ammie, the envelope system has REALLY helped us stay within budget. I didn't think it would, but I was wrong!

    Crystal: We give ourselves allowances, too! I like that a lot, actually. We have very *small* allowances, but it allows me to set aside money if I want to save up for something. Or just buy something for myself without feeling the least bit guilty.

    Michelle, I like the idea of getting reminders on my phone! Maybe i should check out google calendar...:)

    Annie, I am really REALLY impressed that you've always been on time! That's awesome! I'm learning from the best here...:D

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  14. I pay the bills because my husband is busy with work right now. I make sure the checkbook is balanced and everything is entered correctly in Quicken. I LOVE QUICKEN. I love being able to pull reports at the snap of a button. I haven't been able to figure out their budgeting tool as well (we do a lot of transfers and it counts those), so I make a separate budget in Excel and fill things in as we go along. My husband doesn't follow the budget very well. It's hard sometimes because he sees me as trying to restrict him, even though we budget together. I think it HAS to be a joint effort. I think part of the problem is that he's bringing in the money and I'm trying to save as much of it as I can. We have different functions that seem to work at cross-purposes, but they could balance each other instead.
    I also keep bills that need to be paid in one area and ones that need to be filed in another, so I always know where they are. I like being able to schedule a payment online for later than that day, but still know it'll be paid. Just some thoughts! Thanks for the post!

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  15. We have totally separate finances. We both grew up watching our parents argue about who forgot to write what in the checkbook register, so we didn't want that, and since we both have jobs we're able to pay our personal expenses. We each have certain bills that we pay so that each of us is paying about half of the family expenses; if one of us is a little short, we can ask the other to pay this bill this time. He pays the mortgage and gets credit for that on his tax return; I pay childcare and get the child deduction on my tax return. We do discuss our family finances several times a year, but day-to-day it's easier for each of us to have our own responsibilities.

    He sorts the mail and puts all my bills in my inbox. I sit down with my inbox once a week and usually pay all bills then. If I won't have enough to cover a bill until the next payday, then I write it in my checkbook register several lines ahead so that it jumps out at me whenever I do anything with my checking account and I can't forget that I owe that money. I also do this with auto-payments: write them in there as soon as I know the amount so that I'll be sure to have enough in my account when the deduction is made.

    I switched my main credit card to electronic billing but then missed a "time to pay" e-mail (it went into my spam filter) and paid a late fee. The customer service person suggested setting up a monthly auto-payment in the amount of my smallest bill from the past year. That way I'm always paying at least the minimum so won't get a late fee. When I get their e-mail, I go into my account and authorize a second payment (there's no fee for making extra payments) to cover the balance. That works really well for me!

    I used Quicken faithfully for about 7 years, and it was so helpful as a way of seeing exactly where my money was going! I quit when I began to feel that I could handle the bills pretty effortlessly and had developed an instinctive sense of how much money I need for what.

    I donate to several charities, which means (despite my best efforts to reduce junkmail!) a constant tide of requests for more donations to them plus requests from other charities since they figure I'm a softie! I gave my mail-sorting man a list of groups I do NOT give to, and he puts their letters straight into the recycling. The others go into my junkmail bin, and I keep a list of who I donated to on what date and whether it was a membership renewal. When I sit down with my bin (I try to do it at least once a month), I look at how much money I could give away, which groups I've given to least recently, and which memberships are due for renewal; donate accordingly; and discard duplicate letters from the same group. Where possible, I join quarterly donation programs so that the group charges my credit card rather than spending money on sending me a bunch of paper; I can read about what they're doing online.

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