Low Tech Bill Paying with Adult ADD
There are many methods for organizing and paying bills on time. This one is low-tech. It takes an accordion file, envelopes, stamps, a calculator, your favorite writing utensil, and paper. I like a yellow legal pad. The paper is longer, and I have had a lot of success with it. You will need an accordion file to keep current bills in. This method benefits from having a filing cabinet with folders for each of the entities that you pay bills to.
Any effective bill paying method starts with knowing how much money you have. Balance your bank account. If you need help, ask at the bank. For a fee, they are usually willing to walk you through the process. When does your money come in? Is it weekly, monthly, or twice monthly? How much comes into your account?
The next step is finding out what you owe. What companies and individuals do you pay money to? List them all. This includes monthly bills like utilities, housing, food, transportation, loan payments, and other regular bills. What are your quarterly bills? These might include car insurance and neighborhood association dues. Homeowner’s insurance, personal property taxes and real estate taxes are often paid yearly or twice yearly. Write all of them down! If you pay somebody, put it on the list. Break the list into monthly, quarterly, twice yearly, and yearly. If you have other time increments, use them also to make your lists. Put the date that the bill is due by the name of the company. Also put the date when the payment is officially late. The term “officially late” means that you will pay a late charge.
Finding out how much money that you have and how much that you owe are the hardest parts of this process. They are often the most filled with angst. If your bank account and bills have gone completely out of control, then you are worrying about how much money that you actually have. Try to manage your emotions, so that you can get these first two steps completed. Getting the bill paying under control is a process. It does not happen overnight, nor can you do it without knowing how much you owe to which companies.
If you go low tech, it is helpful to have an accordion file. Keep the paper pad, calculator, checks, envelopes, stamps, and a pen inside the first pocket. Arrange the pending bills in the other pockets in a way that makes sense to you. They can be arranged by date or type of bills. You make the choice. Decide on your bill paying days. We use the second and the 16th of the month. List your bills and when they are due for that month, along with the past due date. Now, assign them to a date to be paid. You might want to use two colors to highlight bills for each of the dates when you are paying them. Pay them on that date. Be sure to write what you have done on your bank records. Deduct the paid bill from the money that you have in that account.
If you really can’t pay the bill on that date, call the company and talk to them. Let them know when to expect their money. Write down the name of the person who you talked to, along with the date and time. Record what phone number and extension that you called. Put down details, like what you promised to do and what the company said was acceptable. Know that by paying a credit card late, you might get your interest rate raised. You might even get the interest rate raised on credit cards that have been paid on time.
When a bill has been paid, write the date paid, method used, and when it was mailed on the bill. Switch it from the accordion file to the filing cabinet. Put the most recent bill in the front of your folder, since that is usually the one that you might need to look at to answer questions. Check it off your master list of bills. I love to draw one big line right through paid bills. Don’t scratch it out so that you can’t read what’s there! One line is just fine.
Each month copy all of the leftover bills onto a new sheet. There will be leftover bills for awhile, since it takes time to get everything running smoothly. Remember that you are taking positive steps to change bill paying habits. Write down all of the new bills that will be coming in. File them in the accordion folder when they arrive. Also, don’t forget to set money aside for quarterly, twice yearly, or yearly bills.
It is helpful to check the bank balance each day. Also, if more than one person is using that banking account, then they need to be responsible for reporting expenditures on a daily basis. You need to keep track of your spending.
This is just a framework for one method of paying bills on time. It worked for me. Please adapt it to suit your personal style. It doesn’t involve electronic technology, and it doesn’t cost lots of money to set up. You need to be patient with yourself when you start on this journey. You will make mistakes. The only people who don’t make mistakes are people who don’t do difficult tasks. With persistence, a wonderful trait that adults with ADD have, your bills will be paid on time. One more major stressor will be removed from your life.
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