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Paying Your Bills On Time

You've heard it before. "You always have to pay your bills on
time or it will hurt your credit rating". The fact is that not
paying your bills on time can also cost you a bunch of money.

The last time I checked being late on a credit card payment
can cost you as much as $29 each time. In some cases this is
more than the payment.

Most banks and loan companies also charge some sort of late fee.
Even my electric company tacks on 10% if you don't pay on time.

The bad part of this is that most of the time making late
payments can be avoided. That's because they are simply a
result of a lack of organization. If your bills and receipts
aren't kept organized there is a good chance you will eventually
be late on a payment.

There is nothing more frustrating than receiving a bill for
something you know you've already paid and not being able
to find the receipt or cancelled check. In this case, if
you can't prove you already paid it then you still owe it.

You have to have an organized filing system that you keep
up with faithfully. At Budget Stretcher I have a system so
that you can have your budget, bill paying and filing system
all in one convenient 3 ring binder.

To use this system you will need to setup a budget using
The Complete Budget and Bill Organizer. This organizer is
available free at http://www.homemoneyhelp.com/BBOonline.html.I
would suggest visiting this page to setup your budget before
you try to set up your organizer.

Whether you decide to use my Bill Organizer system or another
system you need to have one. I am going to go through my
system step by step.

Keeping track of your bills each month can be a headache. How
to organize your bill paying and keep track of those receipts,
canceled checks, loan papers and other important paperwork can
be made easy.

Below is a list of supplies you will need. These are available
at all department and office supply stores.

1 'Three Ring Binder 1 '"
3 'Document Protectors(Designed to insert in 3 ring binder)
15 'Pocket Dividers
1 'Write on Tab Divider

SETUP

Step One: Open your three ring binder. Insert your pocket tab
dividers. In front of the pocket dividers, place 1 Write on Tab
Divider. The Write on Tab Divider is designed to provide support
while you are writing on the Monthly Bill Summary.

Step Two: After you complete your Budget as outlined in the
The Complete Budget and Bill Organizer
http://www.homemoneyhelp.com/BBOonline.html
label the dividers. Start by labeling the first divider, Bills
to be Paid. Then label the rest of the dividers with the names
of your bills. See the below sample:

Divider Tab's Labels
Bills To Be Paid
House Payment
Car Payments
Utilities
Telephone
etc.

Continue this until you have a divider for each bill. If you
don't have enough dividers I suggest that you combine similar
bills. This could be all car payments, utilities or credit
cards.

Step Three: Place your Budget Form, Monthly Bill Summary and
Page 2 of the Monthly Bill Summary in the document protectors.
Then place them in the three ring binder in this order:

Monthly Bill Summary (this will be the first form you see when
you open your binder)
Budget Form
Monthly Bill Summary Page 2

USING YOUR BILL ORGANIZER

Step One: Gather all of your bill statements and payment books
and place them in the pocket divider labeled Bills to be Paid.
This is where all the bills are to be placed when you receive
them.

Step Two: On payday, look at section 2 of the Monthly Bill
Summary to determine which bills need to be paid that payday.
Write out your checks for these bills and get them ready to
mail. On the statement for each bill or in your payment book,
write the check number and date paid.

Step Three: File all statements in the pocket divider
corresponding to that bill. When you receive your bank
statement and after you reconcile it, also put the canceled
checks in the pocket divider corresponding to that bill.
File any correspondence in these pocket dividers.

Read more about Your Checking Account at:
http://www.homemoneyhelp.com/checkingaccount.html

One of the biggest problems people have with organizing their
bills and receipts is not knowing what to keep and what to
throw away.

First, there are really four types of files. Personal
(bill receipts, etc), tax files (any paperwork that is
required for taxes), long term files (mortgages, car contracts,
or any other contract) and important papers (will, birth
certificates, etc.)

Personal files are the files mentioned in the Bill Organizer.
At the end of the year, if the files aren't too thick you can
consolidate them into one folder labeled with the year.
Examples of things in this category are: monthly insurance
statements, credit card statements, mortgage receipts, and
any other monthly statement. KEEP THESE RECORDS FOR TWO YEARS.

Tax files can be filed in a folder or accordion folder. These
items include: W2 forms, 1099 forms, All tax forms with
attachments and any other form that you receive that must be
reported on your taxes. KEEP THESE RECORDS FOR THREE YEARS.
It is best to keep your previous years tax forms plus the
three years before that. The IRS only audits back three years.
You can destroy older files.

Long Term files include your mortgage or lease agreements,
notes on car purchases or any contract that is still in effect.
Keep these files in a safe place. KEEP THESE FILES AT LEASE
UNTIL THE AGREEMENT HAS ENDED. MY SUGGESTION IS TO KEEP THEM
FOR FIVE YEARS AFTER THE AGREEMENT HAS ENDED.

Important papers should be kept together where you can lay
your hands on them quickly. You might want to use a safety
deposit box or at least a locked drawer. These items include:
wills, deeds, trusts, stock certificates, birth and death
certificates and any other extremely important documents.
KEEP THESE FILES INDEFINITLY.

As you can see this organizer will help you keep everything
in order. However, no organizer will be any good if you
don't keep up with it.

One tip that will help you keep this organizer neat is to
eliminate any paper that doesn't need to be there. Many
people keep the envelope that the bill is received in. You
will find that this will clutter your organizer faster than
anything else.

It is also not a good idea to fold your receipts or copies
of your statements unless you absolutely must to make them
fit.

Having a system to file your bills and receipts will make it
much easier to know what bills are due and when they are due.
Once you know this paying your bills on time is much easier.

About the Author

Terry Rigg is the author of Living Within Your Means 'The Easy
Way http://www.homemoneyhelp.com/ebookadpage.html and editor
of The FREE Budget Stretcher Newsletter and Budget Stretcher
web site http://www.homemoneyhelp.com. He has 25 years of
experience counseling individuals and families concerning their
personal finances. Use this email link to get a list of all of
Terry's articles by autoresponder at:
mailto:articlelist@budgetstretcherpremium.com


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