Bill-paying is a headache-inducing task. None of us want to watch our bank account balance dwindle away but it is a part of life. We can choose to fight it or roll with it. For many adults with ADHD, paying bills means having to tap into those areas like memory, managing time, staying on task, and organization that are challenging in all areas of life.
Money overwhelms us.
Even if we have it.
Tracking your spending, watching your impulsivity, and making a budget are all important steps in managing your money. But if you don’t have a foundation of good habits to sit down and pay the bills every month none of that matters. Your house will come crumbling down and your bank account will dwindle to zero.
6 Habits to Start Now
1. Pick your bill-paying days.
Set up two days per month, for example on the 10th and 25th. Schedule this day with a specific time on your calendar and set an electronic reminder. If you use a wall or daily planning calendar mark this important appointment with yourself in a green marker/highlighter. During this time you will also confirm your paycheck was deposited correctly by you or automatically by your employer. This gives you something to look forward too. We dismiss the excitement and pleasure of these deposits because we go straight to the bills. Take a moment to acknowledge your hard work.
2. Open Your Mail Everyday
As it is, some have enough trouble remembering where we put all the bills. We let the paperwork pile up into ominous stacks of unopened envelopes until bill collectors are calling daily. We may put off opening the envelope that’s been sitting on the entryway table for weeks because we’re afraid to find late fees charged or an overdue notice. Find your courage to open every envelope.
3. Do NOT file your bills away.
Use a small “file” organizer (only big enough to hold letter size bills) that sits OUT on your desk, kitchen counter or wherever you will see it. You can also use two clear containers/baskets. Check the due dates of the bills as they arrive and sort them in your open “file” organizer into one of your two bill-paying day slots or baskets.
4. Create Automatic On-Line Monthly Payments
These bills should include predictable charges, such as a mortgage and car payments, and payments to utility and phone companies.
This can be a scary proposition for some of us. Giving someone permission to take money out of our account is unnerving. Why does this scare us so much?
On-line banking has come a long way and is more secure than sending money through snail mail. If this fear is nagging you, call your bank to talk to them about your concerns and they’ll happily tell you all the security that is in place and what your liability is if something goes wrong.
You know 99.9% of our money anxiety is driven by untruths we tell ourselves. When it comes to your money and peace of mind, it’s well worth-it to try to bust through these untruths.
5. Set up Credit Card Bills to come to your snail mail.
There is something about that physical piece of paper that makes what we see on these bills more real. Because the amount due for credit cards varies every month, do NOT set-up as an automatic payment.
6. Pay Your Bills
On the 10th and the 25th of each month—bill-paying days—gather your 2 baskets of bills, computer, calculator, stamps, address labels, pen and checkbook to wherever you will stay focused until you’re done paying the bills.
Take out all of the bills from the appropriate bill basket. Using your calculator, quickly add up the total due for all of the bills.
Check your balance online to make sure you have enough funds to make the full payment on each bill before you start writing checks. Remember to record those automatic payments in your checkbook register from Step 4.
See each bill through to completion (payment stub filled out, check enclosed, envelope sealed, stamped, and addressed) before moving on to the next one.
Put the entire stack of payments in the mailbox. Don’t wait until tomorrow to mail them, or you might forget to do it.
Take a couple months to practice this. I’ll check back in with you on your money story then and share some painless budgeting strategies with you.
Here’s to your happy money story!