Budget, Money Management

Paying Bills Vs. Money Management – The Difference Between Surviving And Thriving

I’ve been working for almost twenty years. For most of my adult life, I dreaded ‘paying bills’. For three weeks, bills would pile up on the counter top – waiting to be paid. At the end of the month, paycheck deposited, I’d sit down to sort through the pile. After checks had been written and placed into payment envelopes, I would sit back, blurry-eyed, and think, “Man, what are we going to live on? I just paid all of our bills – and we have ten cents for groceries!”.

Sound familiar?

Here’s how I went from ‘just paying the bills’ to actually managing our money.

1. I created a basic, easy-to-understand budget. I use the You Need A Budget. system for creating my monthly budget.

2. I had a heart-to-heart talk with my wife about what we wanted from our future. We both agreed that we needed to learn more about debt reduction and money management. We established a system for discussing finances and we made money management a family priority.

3. I started opening bills as soon as I received them. This simple exercise added a much needed element of discipline to the process. I struggle with organization and procrastination. I made a commitment to myself that I would deal with each bill, as it arrived. Three minutes a day, spent thinking about finances, saves me hours of worry.

4. I spent some time – away from the television – learning about various retirement, savings, and checking accounts. I then opened a Roth IRA for myself and my wife opened a Roth IRA for herself. We made a commitment to fund our retirement, thus ‘forcing’ ourselves to live under-budget. We also opened various other types of accounts, including Education Savings Accounts for our kids.

5. I created a super-simple method for organizing my bills and financial documents. If I need to retrieve a bill stub, I can do so in less than five minutes.

Not only did I put the above ‘systems’ into place, I also had a change in my mindset. Instead of viewing myself as a paycheck-to-paycheck guy, I began to think of myself as a money manager. I now treat every dollar, every single dollar, with great respect. And, I’m willing to invest the time it takes to learn about personal finance. It’s amazing what can happen when you couple determination and a good plan.

Get up, grab that stack of bills, and deal with them. Stop putting off the very important financial choices that you need to make. Consider the long-term impact of your spending and borrowing habits. Open your eyes and see – really, really, really see – the bright future that can be yours, if you will begin to work for it, today.

4 thoughts on “Paying Bills Vs. Money Management – The Difference Between Surviving And Thriving

  1. I now treat every dollar, every single dollar, with great respect.

    I just love this sentence! I realise I’ve made progress but I’m not treating each and every dollar in the way I should.

    I’m going to start doing this from my very next pay on the 15th April.

  2. I used to save up all the bills, and I dreaded sitting down to pay them. But since I started budgeting, I actually look forward to paying the bills so I can get it over with. Since I know what we have and what we owe, there’s no uncertainty. I get irritated with companies that take too long to post the amount owed on the website because I want to go ahead and pay it as soon as possible so I can mark it off.

  3. I have gone to paying the majority of my bills online. The one bill (aside from rent) that I can’t pay online, I still receive an emailed statement. This has helped me tons. I HATE writing checks and, even more, I LOATHE buying stamps, envelopes and remembering to stick it in the mailbox.

    I have a spreadsheet that I use to track, essentially, my bank balance. It’s split up by pay periods. So after I get paid every two weeks, I know what has to be paid out of that paycheck.

    The only thing is, I’m still not getting ahead. My bills are getting paid on time, and that is a plus. But I’m still not getting ahead.

  4. My wife and I took a hit of $30,000 last year in take home income. I got hurt in Feb 07 and as of today I’m still out of work. I thank God that we were not the types to go out and buy toys. Neither my wife and I have the I wants. Or the I got to haves. That being said we were still wasting money. Last month alone we had spent over $300.00 eating out and another $320.00 on groceries. That’s just for two of us. We’ve cut back on both and even with the cut in income are comfortably able to live on the money we make. We are able to save 10% and give another 10% to the church. It pays to be frugal!

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