When Sarah and I first graduated from college and entered the “real world,” we paid our bills on a monthly cycle. I would just collect all of our bills in a basket and pay them on the first of the month.
It wasn’t long before I noticed that I was getting late fees on several of the bills, so I studied them and realized that the best date each month to pay the bills was the 20th as that would avoid almost all of the late fees. I moved to that day.
(Even worse was the fact that some of these “late” bills were actually dinging my credit report, though I didn’t actively realize it at the time.)
Eventually, we moved. We changed energy companies and internet service providers. We bought a house. We changed cell phone providers.
It wasn’t long before paying bills once (or even twice) a month didn’t really work. We were always getting dinged with late fees, even though we were diligent with our bill payments.
Paying bills as soon as they arrived didn’t always work, either. We’ll check the mail on our way in the house on a busy day and we just won’t have time to deal with a bill right then and there.
The solution was simple. We started a weekly bill payment cycle.
Our bill paying routine is really straightforward.
We have a small basket on the table in our entryway. When we get the mail each day, we leaf through it for urgent items, perhaps pull out some of the junk mail, and then toss what’s left into that basket.
On the weekend, one of us (usually me) will process that basket. We’ll pull out all of the bills and pay them all at once using online banking.
Having this as a weekly routine has a lot of advantages. First, the pile of mail isn’t overwhelming – it’s just a week’s worth of mail, so it doesn’t take that long. Second, paying all my bills weekly avoids all late fees and all potential dings to my credit score, which directly saves me money. Third, I just don’t have to worry about things as they come in – I just deal with it all once a week.
Sure, it takes some time and effort to establish a routine, but this is one routine that’s really beneficial.
This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.