Keeping track of your household bills, how much you can afford and expenditures can help you avoid unexpected payments at the worst times. Late and missed payments can quickly snowball, leading to additional charges and situation that’s difficult to get out of. Organizing your finances can help you avoid unexpected bills whilst also helping you save for the future. The following post is full of tips you’ll find useful to help you live an economically stable life.
Set Up an Online Bill Calendar
To keep track of your household bills, set up an online calendar that all bill payers in your household can access. Include payment dates, fixed and estimated fees and when your contract is up for renewal.
Your typical household bills will likely include the following:
- Mortgage or rent (no, you’re not wasting money on rent!)
- Cell phone
- TV or cable
- Car payments
- School fees
- Streaming services
- Trash collection
Go through your bills and bank statements to find these payments and log the dates they’re due. Payments will likely be a mix of monthly, quarterly and annually, so be thorough when looking at your bills.
Set reminders for payments so you won’t miss the payment date. If you know you’re unreliable when it comes to making payments, set several prompts so you can’t miss it. Paying your bills on time will help you avoid additional charges and penalties.
Organize Your Bills
Your bills and statements will usually be sent to you by email or in the mail. Keep track of these by creating physical storage for paper bills as well as electronic storage for emails.
For every bill you get by email, download it and store it in a secure and organized electronic folder. For paper bills, scan in a copy or photograph to be saved in your electronic folder. This will give you a central database for all documents, no matter how they’re received.
Using a dedicated email address just for bills can also simplify the process. All communications will go to one place, stopping them from getting lost in your busy personal inbox.
Review the Price Annually
To help avoid annual price increases on your bills, keep track of renewal dates and check to see whether prices will be going up. Every time a contract is up for renewal and when you’re looking for a new contract, compare the prices against the competitors and request a price reduction or an incentive. Speaking to suppliers by phone can lead to additional discounts as you can negotiate.
Choose Billing After Pay Day
If you’re able to, arrange for all of your bills to be paid shortly after your payday. This will help stop you struggling for money before you’re paid again. If your pay date isn’t fixed, put the money away where it won’t be spent. This will help you ensure the cash is available when needed.
Set a Monthly Budget
Keep track of your monthly finances by setting a budget for your spending. Set aside money for household spends including food shopping as well as disposable income. Break the budget down into weekly or daily spends to help you stick to the amount.
Start by looking at exactly what money you have coming in and going out every month. Once you have a full and honest picture, pinpoint how much money you have available and break down the amount left into manageable chunks. Note down where you commonly spend your money and break it down into categories like meals out, cinema trips, coffee, etc.
Keep the Costs Down
Once you’ve looked into your finance for your budget (maybe even budgeting for a home makeover), try to identify areas you can reduce your spending. If you’re spending an excessive amount on your food shop, look for alternative options to save money. Buying in bulk or switching to another brand can help. Shopping with a list rather than looking around can help to curb your spending.
One of the primary ways you can keep the cost down is by canceling any monthly payments for things you no longer use. Had a gym membership for a year but not gone in months? Cancel it. Have both Apple Music and Spotify? Choose one and drop the other. If a few people in your home have a separate account for something, see if there are any family accounts to cut the cost.
You can also save money on your household bills by living a more eco-friendly life. Switch light bulbs for energy-saving LEDs, install low-flow plumbing to cut down on water and line dry your clothes.
Rather than paying on receipt of your bill, setting up automated payments means you’ll never miss a bill, preventing late fees. Not only is this more reliable, but it will also save you time, removing the need to manually pay.
The only drawback you’ll encounter is in the event you’re overcharged and need to dispute a bill. To prevent this from happening, check the amount you’re charged on the day of payment. If the amount is incorrect, contact the company immediately and question the bill.
Also, if you do close your account with a company, make sure that you cancel the automated payment. This will stop any issues with potential charges after an agreement has finished.
Save a Buffer
Saving a little each month will help give you a buffer if anything bad is to happen. A common practice is a 50-30-20 rule in which you split your income up spend 50% on necessities, 30% on things you want and saving the remaining 20%.
Your ability to save will vary according to your personal circumstances but saving 20% can really cover you for unexpected bills and the future. Start saving by cutting back on your disposable income spends.
Once you’ve started saving, don’t touch it unless there’s an actual emergency and you can’t do without the money. If you’re following your monthly budget that we discussed above, you shouldn’t need to access any additional money unless there is an emergency.
Taking control of your finances will help you from missing payments and overspending. Cutting back can help make it easier to save, giving you cash available when you need it. Try to keep track of all spending to help you stay on top of your money.