Organize Bills

Organize bills (invoices/statements) and save yourself a lot of stress in life. This will also save you money because you won’t be late to pay them and get a late fee which could ruin your credit history. You also have all the information organized and in one place where it is readily available in case you find a discrepancy.

Dedicate a space for incoming mail preferably in the kitchen or office where you go daily and see the mail so that you don’t forget. If you are managing mail on a weekly basis, keep two bins – one each for incoming and outgoing mail.

Discard/recycle junk mail. Always shred paperwork with sensitive information like extended warranty offers for your vehicle with its VIN number, credit card offers etc.

Go through the bills and sort them in the order of their due dates.

A 3 ring binder is a great tool to organize bills and monthly statements. You will need a 3-hole paper punch as well. Use one binder for every year. A 3 or 4 inch binder should be enough for one year’s worth of statements and documents. Write the year on the side of the binder for easy identification. You can contact your tax professional for advice on how long to keep these records. Assign a shelf in your bookshelf for these binders.

Divide the binder into categories using divider tabs like home, pay stub, Investments/401k, bank statements, credit cards, electric/gas, water, phone, internet, satellite/cable, health, car, air miles, charity etc.

For example, I file statements of mortgage, home insurance, property tax assessment, lawn care etc. under the home tab; documents related to car payment, insurance, repair etc. under the car tab; health insurance, medical bills etc. under the health tab.

I file the statements under each category in sequential order with the latest statement on top.This will help you a lot when you have a dispute with health insurance payments, credit card charges etc. since you have all the information easily available. Many credit card companies, banks, utilities etc. usually keep only the latest 3 months of information.

If you have more than one credit card, keep the statements according to usage of each card with the one you use mostly on top. You can print the credit card company names (Capital One, Chase, Discover, American Express, Bank of America etc.) on a regular 8.5 x 11 paper in large letters to separate statements for each credit card.

Find out whether you can set up online and automated bill pay with your bank and also with your utility and other service providers (like mortgage, alarm company, lawn maintenance, pest control etc).

When making online payments write down the conformation number and date paid on the statement. This way you have this information together with the statement in your binder for future reference if needed.

Write the user name and the password hint for online accounts on the appropriate statements preferably the first one of the year. It can become very difficult to remember all those passwords!

Don’t forget maintenance. Once you organize bills, you know where to keep everything. So when you get the mail everyday, go through it quickly, make the payments, keep what you need and discard junk mail right away. Try to do this daily. Do not procrastinate. It is easy to do when the amount of paperwork to manage is small. If you can’t do it daily at least do it on a weekly basis. This way you won’t have a bunch of mail and paper lying around creating clutter.

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