As a child, we very rarely went out to eat. My mother stayed at home with my brother and me, and Dad was a full-time police officer. When I grew up a bit, I started noticing that going to eat was directly related to days my Dad received his paycheck. I remember getting excited on a particular Friday because I knew I figured out the secret to getting a trip to Western Sizzlin’. It was PAYDAY! I looked at my mom and asked her if we were going to go out to eat that night. When she told me no, I remember looking at her very confused and asking why not. She bluntly stated that there were bills to pay. In my ever curious state, I asked as only an eight year old would “But, why do the bills ALWAYS come on payday?”
Obviously, at 8 I was not a budgeting guru. At 35, I am still not a budgeting guru, but I am getting better. It’s taken a lot of time, practice and patience to get a budget as close to perfect as possible. It’s still not 100% and it probably won’t ever be 100%, but on the whole I am comfortable with our budget as it is and confident that I can pay bills when they’re due. I have noticed however, that on many personal finance blogs, there seems to be a trend of holding on to that money “just in case” instead of paying bills first.
If you are being honest with yourself, your budget, and YOUR SAVINGS you should easily be able to sit down the night before you’re paid and write out your bills in advance, or schedule them for online payment. There may be a few that you absolutely have to prep on payday or after, but there is no reason to sit around hoarding money until your next payday if you have properly budgeted. The exception to this is possibly people who are on a flexible income and don’t necessarily know what they will be receiving from check to check.
My bill paying process became much more complicated recently. In the past, I was able to hop online and pay everything but 1 bill. I wrote 1 check to the water department and dropped it off. BAM AND DONE. Recently, I have started tackling our medical debt. My check writing has increased from ONE to NINETEEN. Yes, out of 22 total debtors 18 of them are for medical bills. EIGHTEEN. (Memo to me: That book of checks is not going to last 5 years again. Order more.) I cannot pay these bills online. Can you imagine the stress that would be added to my next payday if I held on to 18 bills “just in case”? Aside from that, what if the “just in case” happened and I spent another month not paying those bills? MAKE YOUR BUDGET ACCURATE!
I sucked it up and started streamlining this process:
- Review the budget
- Write out all of the paper bills and mark them on my debt snowball list with the check number and date it was paid. Each debt has its own page for notes etc.
- Schedule all necessary online payments to clear the bank AFTER our checks are deposited.
After we actually receive our checks, I finish up the process by:
- Verifying that all bills have been paid for the week
- Pulling out cash for our groceries and gasoline
- Transferring money to our savings. (Our emergency fund is not fully funded.)
- Moving paid off medical bills to a “dead file” in the back of the filing cabinet along with its debt snowball page from my binder.
That’s it. I’m done until the next payday. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to worry about the “just in case” situations. I don’t want to have that little nag in the back of my head telling me I haven’t mailed something, or that a bill is due. Bill paying is not a chore I like, and I want it done and gone ASAP.
Are you a “just in case” bill payer? If so, why?
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