A reader and class participant asks: “Dear Sue: Do you have any suggestions on how to organize household bill paying? My husband does that now and I would like to come up to speed on it. I would like to find a strategy that suits my style. That way I could take over the bill payment if I had to.”
I’m writing this blog in two parts today. Some of you may want to read this blog and answer the questions for yourself before moving onto the next blog entry, which is about the practicalities of a bill paying system. Some of you, like our reader, already know these answers and will move right onto practicalities. I’m writing and releasing both parts today, so you can read both, or read one, answer the questions, and then return for part two – all at your own pace.
I love this question – Thinking ahead, wanting to understand more now, and aware that any organizing issue needs to take into account your style.
I’m known for answering a question with a question … and then my suggestions, so not to disappoint …
Questions to Ask Yourself as You Begin
#1 Why is this important to you? Our reader has one answer.
Yours might be: I want to know more so we can figure out how to …
- be excellent role models for our children, teaching them about the value of money, money management, living within our means, or being frugal. This is another “organizing” skill which really is a life skill.
- stop our magical thinking. You feel as if you’re spending too much, but do you really know?
- save for (fill in the blank). Understanding and managing the finances of today will help you save for whatever your goals are. And having a goal is the best way to get something done.
- you have more anxiety around money than you know is healthy. Could be you don’t understand. Could be money attitudes in how you were raised, or that you and your current family have different spending and saving habits. Understanding takes the emotion out of the conversation for the most part. Understanding, managing/control all reduce stress and worry. You’ll know that you have enough for house maintenance or other unexpected expenses.
- negotiate better rates, use fewer credit cards, pay down debt faster.
- live the best life we can as we shift into “retirement,” (whatever that means to you).
#2 What systems work well for you – and why?
- This question will help you get at answers like:
- How to get started with something new;
- How to remember what you have to do;
- How to make this a habit and a routine;
- How do you handle it when life throws you a curve ball or you get super busy?
- What products or software (tools) do you use in the system that works well for you? What do you like about them? Why do they work for you?
- How much control do you have or do you involve other people? How do you make that work?
Okay, yes, I know that’s more than just a second question! These questions help you figure out what “style” of system work for you.
Once you know that, some of these characteristics can be used in the bill paying system you are now creating. There are three pieces fora system to work: the steps or process you use; the products/tools you use; and the people involved (the habits, their style). All three need to work well for your system to be easy and support your reasons for creating it to begin with.
Next up: the practicalities.