Create A Bill Schedule (and never miss another bill payment)
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night, and realized you forgot to pay a bill?
It is not a good feeling. Missing a bill payment can result in late fees, or worse, a negative impact on your credit score.
We are paid on a bi-weekly basis. We have 26 pay periods in a year, and each one seems to be just a little bit different. Some weeks we have many bills to pay, other weeks only a few. Most of our bills come as e-bills. Before creating a bill schedule, all of those payment dates were just swimming around inside my head. That caused me a lot of unnecessary stress.
Creating a bill payment schedule has saved our sanity and we no longer worry about missing a payment.
To help you create your own bill payment schedule, you can download my Bill Schedule Template for excel. In January, I create my bill schedule for the entire year. To keep it simple, you could also do this quarterly.
How to Set Up A Bill Payment Schedule:
Gather all of your bills and payments. Make a list of these payments and their due dates. To make the next steps easier, you should group these payments by their frequency. For example, put all bi-weekly payments together, all monthly payments together and all yearly payments together.
(Tip: Payments made by cheque or online banking, usually it takes a few extra days to clear. In order to make sure payments arrive on time, make the due dates for those bills a few days earlier.)
Determine your paydays. This is easiest if you have the same paydays every month, like the 1st and 15th. If you are paid on a different schedule, like bi-weekly, print out a yearly calendar and then highlight your paydays.
Fill in the Template. Open the excel file and enter the dates for each pay period into the template. Then fill in the bills that need to be paid for each period.
(Tip: If you are not sure the exact amount of a bill, like a power bill that may change each month, then enter an estimate. Make sure to keep your paper bills all in one place, or use e-billing so that you can quickly find the amount due when payday arrives.)
(Tip: Add your credit card due dates to this schedule, so you won’t forget to pay those on time.)
Save your spreadsheet. You will want to update the spreadsheet with any new bills/payments or when you remove a bill/payment. That way the file will always be up to date. If you like to have a paper copy then go ahead and print it out.
Using Your New Bill Schedule
Make a Date with Your Money on Payday. This will become your bill paying day. Open up your spreadsheet.
Reconcile Any Outstanding Transactions. Often we have automatic withdrawals for things like mortgages and car loans or cheques for things like rent. These payments usually do not come out of our accounts right away. When you first open up your spreadsheet, you should cross out any outstanding payments from last pay period that had successfully come out of your account.
Make Bill Payments. Make all the manual bill payments for this pay period. If you use online banking you can cross out the payments as you make them, because the money has been removed from your account. If you are writing a cheque or have automatic withdrawals, don’t cross these payments just yet, because the money has not been removed from your account. Reconcile them next payday. That way you will always know if you have a cheque or payment outstanding, and you won’t spend that money in your account by accident.
(Tip: Always check to make sure the formula in the spreadsheet is correct. If you add/subtract a line, it can change the formula and the ‘Total Fixed Bills’ will not be correct. It is always best to double check.)
Here is an example of what my bill payment schedule would look like after sitting down on payday, February 23rd. I’ve crossed out the payments that I have made and have left my account. Automatic payments like my mortgage, savings withdrawals and the cheque to pay my gas bill haven’t been crossed out yet. Next pay day, I’ll open up my spreadsheet and check to see that they came out of my bank account. Then I can cross them off.
Another important piece of the bill schedule is being able to look ahead and see how many bills you have to pay in the next few pay periods. If I know that I am going to have pay period with a smaller number of bills, like March 9th, I can plan to set aside a small amount from that week, for pay periods when I have more bills.
Using a bill schedule and developing a payday routine is a great way to ensure that you don’t miss any payments. Be sure to update your bill schedule with any new bills, or remove bills you no longer pay.
Do you have a different method for keeping track of your bills? I would love to hear from you below in the comments.