Would you like a simple, no-nonsense way to handle your monthly bills? Do you HATE balancing your budget every month and reviewing multiple account statements? Do you have arguments with your significant other (or your roommate) because you thought THEY were paying the electric bill this month? Do you get hit with late fees because you are so busy you forget to pay until a second notice arrives?
There are a few steps you can take that will help streamline your household expenses, save more money, and spend less time dealing with your bills and other debts!
Step 1 – One Card to Rule Them All
Shop for a credit card (or a debit card) that offers the best rewards or cash back and use it (and only it) for your monthly bills (utilities, cell phone, cable television, etc.). Credit cards typically offer more generous rewards than debit cards, but only make sense if the balance is paid every single month. That way, you’ll receive those rewards, without losing money to late fees and/or interest payments (or damaging your credit rating).
IMPORTANT NOTE: Be sure whatever card you select protects you from online fraud, so you can take advantage of the next step.
Step 2 – Set Up Online Payments
Schedule all your bills for automatic payment. Be sure to ask each vendor if they offer a discount for automatic payments and/or paperless statements. (At the very least, you will gain a discount from NOT having overdue fees!)
Once a month, you can review one credit card statement for all your regular bills and merely pay that bill with a single transfer from your bank. (Or, if using a debit card, simply review your monthly bank statement.) This will reduce the time and effort you spend managing bills each month.
Step 3 – Give Yourself an Allowance
If you are paying all your regular monthly bills automatically, you should determine how much additional spending money you need each week for groceries, gas, etc. and pull that out of your bank account, in cash.
Using cash for “running expenses” will help you pay closer attention to your daily spending because pulling cash out of a wallet is more “real” than swiping a card. As a result, you will find yourself more hesitant to make impulse purchases. The money you save can really add up.
Step 4 – Pay Off Debt and/or Fund a Nest Egg
If you are trying to pay off credit cards, or other debt, look into setting up automatic monthly transfer payments from your bank. (Or, if your credit card or consumer debt is high, see if you can refinance for a lower interest rate while you pay off the debt.)
With your monthly bills set up to pay automatically, and your spending money limited to cash, you will probably be able to start paying off debts, saving for something special, or simply building a nest egg for a little peace of mind.
For additional savings, consider setting up an automatic transfer into an interest-bearing account each month, or each pay period. This is a great way to reach a specific goal – to purchase new appliances, a vacation, a new car, or the down payment on a house!
Step 5 – Take Advantage of New Apps
To supplement your efforts, check out these online tools for banking, budgeting, and more.
Regardless of how you decide to approach financial solvency and stress-free money management, it’s an important step that will greatly improve the quality of your life. The sooner you take charge, the sooner you can reach your goals!