Preventing Bills From Getting Lost

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I thought I’d share a short post about preventing your bills from getting lost. If you keep things organized you can save money on fees and reduce the stress of worrying about bills being late.

Margaret Writes:

Our bills are sorted by date–the due date is written on the envelope. Then the pile is organized by due date, with the ones due soonest on top. These are paper clipped in the checkbook. Top bill gets paid first.


My system is similar. I line my bills in order in a napkin holder (one that just has 2 bars to hold the napkins because I can see the bills easier), with my checkbook behind them.


Margaret, your system would be great if you need your bill paying to be portable, like if you don’t have room for a desk or  travel a lot. My parents travel a lot and my mom takes her bills with her.

I hope I don’t blow some of your minds out there but, to be honest, I usually only have one or two bills in my bill holder because, when I can, I pay them the day after I receive them. To do this, I usually try to keep one or two extra months’ income in my checking account.

(Note from Mike: I do this with our bills, too. I pay most of them right away. Then I never have to wonder whether I paid all of the bills and if we have a sudden emergency, I can let it ride a week or two without consequences. We also keep some of our savings in the checking account at all times. Then, not only do we have the money when the bills arrive, but if we make a mistake with the checkbook we don’t bounce any checks. It took some work to save the “cushion” money for our checking account, but it has made out lives much easier!)

I know some people wait until the last minute to pay their bills because they don’t have the money or they have it and want to earn more interest. I have always felt since I have used these peoples services already, I owe them so I pay right away. It’s just one of my little quirks from being in business for myself years ago. I always appreciated it when my customers paid me right away. Sometimes I was desperate to be paid. If my customers hadn’t paid me we would have literally starved

(Note from Mike: Most people aren’t making enough interest on the money to make it worth holding the money anyway.)

I know in most cases people are dealing with big companies but I still feel if I use a service I should pay for it right away. As noble as that all sounds there are selfish reasons I pay my bills right away.

  • I don’t want to spend my time thinking about or looking at an unpaid bill. It’s out the door, done and over with.
  • Things happen. If I accidentally put a check in with the wrong bill or a wrong address on the envelope, I still have plenty of time to pay it without a late fee if it gets returned.
  • If I get sick and have to go to the hospital I don’t have to worry whether I have bills that need to be paid. I am pretty well caught up.

I know that many of you pay over the Internet these days but this is for the handful of us ancients who pay bills the old fashioned way– with a checkbook.


P.S. Some of you can’t imagine being able to pay your bills instantly but it is doable. It is one of the lovely stress free perks about being debt free. That is why we work so hard at trying to teach people how to get out of debt— because, as many of you know, it feels so wonderful!

photo by jenn_jenn


  1. Lisa F. says

    I have a special basket for bills, includes envelopes, mailing labels, return address labels and stamps. It’s home if near the front door, when mail if sorted. I also have a couple payment books, mortgage and car, in this basket. I keep organized by due date and try to write checks once a week or at the least every other week. Once paid then the bottom of bill info is filed in office.

  2. Ohiomom9977 says

    I second paying the bills as soon as they come in – it really keeps us from spending too much on other things and saves the time of spending an evening doing bills. Most of the time we pay them right away. The few days before pay day we may let a bill or two wait if money is short. Every friday we do the “banking”. This is when medical bills are paid if we have any (we keep money for that in the savings and try to avoid transferring more than a few times a month), car payment or house payment.

  3. Tris says

    We have our 3 main utility payments on auto pay. The cable/internet (only the very basic cable with local channels so we have decent reception and get a discount on the internet), electricity and phone payments come right out of our checking account on the same day every month. It is much eaier as we don’t have to remember to have stamps or to write a check. Oh, we also have our Netflix on auto withdrawal too. On that one, we did do the downgrade to the one at a time option and use the Watch It Now feature frequently.

  4. Christa says

    We pay all our bills at the beginning of the month(online) then we can see excally what we have left over for the entire month. Its nice because hey the bills are paid and done with and second if something comes up later on in the month and we need money we dont have to worry about paying for that sudden thing or paying a bill because the bill is paid for allready.

  5. Susan says

    I also pay my bills when they come in,its just easier on us. Now there are times when we have an unexpected bill and do not want to dip into our savings {unless its major} we may use some of our bill money and then just pay the bill before its due,we have been doing this for a while and I am also one that still uses “snail mail” Having the bills paid for the month and out of the way makes it so much easier

  6. says

    I have a big cardboard envelope with an attached rubber band to keep it closed. I keep a paper copy of my spreadsheetin it, and put all bills in it as they arrive.

    We get paid on the 1st and 3rd of the month. I sit down at that time and pay all bills either by online payments or writing a check. I enter each payment on my spreadsheet as I pay it so I know I don’t miss a anything.

    Doing it this way, I know immediately how much money I have left to spend on food, gas, allowances, etc. I also print out a paper copy of the spreadsheet so if I need to check something, I don’t have to boot up the computer.

  7. rose says

    when we first started doing the paper routes and had to bill the cust’s (now the co bills the cust’s) .. i remember one couple .. they had all their bills due at the 15th of the month .. they got paid on the 3rd of the month (they were seniors) and basically knew what their bills were (except for the electric bc that basically changed every mont depending on usage) ..
    and this included the price of the money orders and stamps .. (we are talking the early ’90’s b4 online banking) and they used money orders instead of checks (why? i am not sure)…
    hubby pays all of our bills online and i am not sure if he does it at the first of the month or when they come in the mail ..

  8. gertrud says

    My utilities and (still( mortgage come out by automatic draft, the rest of the bills get paid the moment they come in,” done, out of mind”, if anything then is left over “alrigth”. Have done that since we were poor military folks why-back when. Love your website. Gertrud

  9. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    and if you want to hold onto your money until the last minute, date the checks the day they are due.

  10. Sandi P says

    I found out when I took teller training 20 years ago that post dated checks might as well have todays date on them. The banks are not obligated to hold a check until the date on it. If the check is presented for payment, the bank is obligated to pay it. The only thing they look at the date for is to make sure it isn’t dated further back than 6 months.

  11. Barbs says

    When I was single some 30 yrs ago, I paid my bills as soon as they came in usually or used the napkin honder with checkbook, stamps and returns. It worked for me.
    Now my husband does the task, and slips each months due with the dates on each envelope. In the lean years, with monthly state paymments, has been hard. Ev eryone wants their money when our checks don’t come! It is a hastle foot to mouth!

  12. kimber says

    Note to those who make payments via the internet. Not not let them just automatically just take the payment without your interaction. Keep a watchfully eye for hidden fees and always reference the prior months billing statement to compare it to the new one to make sure they haven’t added any additional fees or raised costs. They are counting on your paying over the internet to be done automatically, a) so they get their money sooner and b) that you will just overlook those type of items because you have gotten busy with something else to pay any attention to their statement.

    You can still make payments online without it being set up to automatically come out each month.

  13. Jeanne T. says

    I also pay our bills at the beginning of the month. Since I retired, and my annuity is deposited on the first of the month, this has actually made budgeting easier, because I know, more or less, how much I will have for the rest of the month. Some bills aren’t available online until later, but I still figure in the amount anyway so that it isn’t spent elsewhere.

  14. sara says

    I started with bpay divide the approx. monthly bill amount and pay weekly.I paid a little extra each week and soon was ahead so when the bills arrive I now have it paid in full before the due date.What a relief and less stress.

  15. Tammy says

    I have a large brown envelope that I label for each month. As a bill comes in for that month I stick it in the envelope. I then write the due date, name, and the amount on the back of the envelope. As they are paid or swept out of my account I mark them off. I also write the confirmation number on the envelope beside the bill. At the end of the month I file the envelope away. My husband gets paid weekly and it is very easy to tally and figure out which bills get paid this week. I also have one that I keep receipts and things I need to file taxes with next year.

  16. Roxie says

    I use the FREE service our bank offers, BILL PAY. It is good for more than 1 reason. First it sends the bill to the company FREE. (no postage for me to pay) Then, I can set the bill up to be paid on the date it is DUE and KNOW it will be paid on that date. I have used this free service for several years and not once has it been off. Bills always paid on time. The bank sends me a reminder to my e-mail to let me know the bill has been paid. Also, if I need to prove a bill has been paid I can go to the web site and print the ‘e-check’ out. I have done this for TAX reasons. To provide the IRS with proof of taxes paid.

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