There’s something to be said for planning ahead.
One of the biggest struggles I had when I transitioned to adult life was making sure I kept up with everything I needed to do…including bills. Especially bills.
The thought of forgetting a payment or even being late made my heart rate sputter and increase, and even small hurdles to fix the issue (i.e. a small late fee) seemed monstrous to me.
The best thing I ever did was to start writing everything down in an agenda that I use to organize my life. I write down phone calls I make for school and insurance, the dates of exams and doctor’s appointments, and when each bill is due (and how much it should be).
I wrote last week about the surprise lab bill I received. Obviously, you can’t plan for every contingency in life, but if you have monthly or routine bills, they should be planned for as far ahead as possible.
Tomorrow (the 17th) is typically the day I pay three bills: my cell phone bill (I share a plan with my mom so I pay for us both); my cable/internet bill for the apartment; and my car payment.
I pay the phone and cable/internet bills online, so I know they will suck my money out of my bank account as fast as their computer processors can…well, process. The car payment is made via check and I always write it out on the 17th (or as close to the 17th as possible) so that it gets to the bank that issued my car loan by the 25th (it’s due date).
I try to keep my billing dates consistent month-to-month so that I can plan ahead for days like tomorrow. I know that I have to have about $600 in my bank account ready to pay these bills. ($600 is a bit overkill since the bills are the same amounts each month, but if I forget my lunch or to fill up my gas tank and need to make a stop, I like the margin for error preventing an overdraft fee.)
I get paid biweekly, so I’ve received one paycheck this month so far (but received three in June). The third paycheck from June was ear-marked for July before the credit to my account even appeared on my online ledger so that I could pay my (less than half) portion of the rent to my fiance for our June rent and have money for groceries and gas until I got paid last Friday. That paycheck is ear-marked strictly for the bills listed above that I am paying tomorrow and the electricity for the apartment.
We made it convoluted when we decided that I would pay for the utilities, my fiance would pay the rent, and the difference between half of the rent and what I paid in utilities is what I would pay him each month. If that sounds confusing, I apologize…night shift and no coffee or sleep after don’t mix well 😉 All that matters is that we went halfsies on the apartment expenses, and it works well for us each month.
I wouldn’t be able to do this convoluted plan without knowing how much I needed to be in my account for bills each month and when I needed it by. This truly has saved me stress and late fees (which is helping me to focus more on school and my student loan repayment plan!). It took a few months for me to find a system that worked for me, but once I did, I never looked back. In a few days, I’ll post more about my life planning and how I keep my head on straight during this craziness.