Paying the monthly bills. For some of us, this might be one of our least favorite tasks; yet, it's an important one. Without an organized system for paying bills, payments can be late or missed altogether resulting in late fees, penalties, and higher interest rates. Late payments can also ruin your credit. So, we’ve put together four easy ways to help you keep track of your bills and keep them organized.
Establish a "home financial center." It doesn’t have to be a full-blown office – it can be as simple as an accordion folder, but you need to have a central place for your incoming bills. You may need two areas: one for bills mailed to you and an online folder to house online bills. Do what works best for you but make sure you can find all your bills quickly and easily.
Open all your bills. It seems simple enough, but if you're behind on paying bills, it's tempting not to open them or to put off viewing your credit card bill each month. However, there could be an unpleasant surprise you should know about, like a change in the billing cycle or a late fee. Or, it could hold pleasant news such as an overpayment to the family physician, and there’s a refund to your account.
Make a date with your finances. Set aside time for you and your bills. Dependent upon the number and frequency of your bills, you may need to do this once a month, once a week, or even once a day. Whatever the case, reserve quiet time to pay your bills and catch up on your finances.
Consider using Bill Pay. If an accordion file is too low-tech for you, Bill Pay is the perfect solution. Granted, it’s not revolutionary — the service has been around for nearly two decades – but beyond just being a convenient way to pay your bills, it’s also an excellent cash management tool to help you keep your finances on track.
- A One-Stop Shop: Bill Pay alleviates the need to remember multiple passwords for multiple websites. By organizing your bills in one single place, you can easily schedule payments, see if something is posted incorrectly, or know if you missed a payment completely.
- Easy Money Management: In addition to paying bills, you can access your payment history for the past 24 months, search for specific payments, and set-up email alerts so you never miss a thing. You can even download your payment info and import it into many different personal financial software applications.
- Safe and Secure: Bill Pay uses the best security protocols to help keep your transactions secure, including: usernames and passwords, SSL (secure socket layer) to ensure your connection and info are secure from outside inspection, 128- bit encryption processes to keeps your data hidden during electronic transit, and automatic sign off if your online session is idle for too long.
We hope these tips help establish your bill paying system. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s simple and something that works best for you!
[WestStar clients: To get started with Bill Pay, select "Advance Bill Pay" under the Transactions tab in online banking. With just a few simple steps, you'll be set up in no time!]