Got bill frustration? Keep calm and pay on

Close-up of figurine couple on wedding cake

Happy figurine couple on wedding cake, oblivious of challenges they may face.

Oh’ the joys of matrimony

For those of us in relationships, money can be one of the BIGGEST polarizing topics that can easily slip into conversation every hour, on the hour… EVERY DAY. Just look at your own partnership and ask yourself — are you the saver or spender? There could be two savers or two spenders — but of the two, chances are one is more dominant in one area over the other. Looking at my husband’s habits compared to my own, it’s clearer than it’s ever been that I’m the saver out of the duo…

Jason is by far the one who enjoys nice things, looking at them… touching them, then buying them and bringing them into our home. I’m not suggesting there’s anything wrong with having expensive taste or admiring and wanting fine things, but there’s a time and a place for it. I know somewhere down the line I’ll look to water down my cheapness and open my wallet a bit more, but at present, our money fights and differences over how to save and spend have created strong divides with little to no room for compromise. And I don’t see myself budging to indulge his whims and wants. So, hubby… if you’re reading this… here it is in print: I simply don’t think now is a good time for us to be daydreaming about our wants, we’ve got time – years and years for that.

The first year…

We’re a newly married couple on a ferocious sea of struggle and setbacks. So, to better guide our decision making, I’m taking order on how we can keep our wants in check by facing up to the everyday realities of being a grownup and paying the bills. One of the ways I’m addressing this tug-of-war is through the creation of what I refer to as “the bill book,” — creative, right?

Lets back up to my past and the long history of emotions surrounding money. One of my biggest concerns over getting into a marriage has always surrounded and still continues to surround partnership over money and financial accountability to one another. It scares the crap out of me to think about leaning on someone or looking to them regarding money matters. Let’s not stop short of saying… it freaked me out before marriage, and it freaks me out now. Nothing has changed there. I don’t know how to share control over the purse strings…and I know it will continue to be a struggle for me. I don’t know how to not get my way.

But I am inviting change now that I’m a wife… I’m trying to let someone care for me in money realms, to help me cover expenses and pick up when I fall behind… to budget together and create a joint financial future. I’m still trying to grasp whatever that is for us or what it could look like. I constantly wonder how people do it.

I flew solo for so long — taking care of myself every step of the way without having others step in and help out when things fell apart or got too difficult to sleep at night. Now I’m a) sharing the burden of the bills with someone else, and b) compromising on where the money goes and when. Yikes! It’s a big deal for me.

An epiphany!

So back to the binder… I created it because of the continuous battle over our bills. When a bill makes it into our mailbox and we pull it out… Jason or I IMMEDIATELY open it, file the knowledge away and put it into it’s assigned place, guarded by plastic sheet protectors inside our bill binder. The entire practice, I believe, is creating a clearer system of what responsibility and accountability should look and feel like, not only within our relationship with one another, but within our relationship to our lenders and service providers.

After all, we’re paying for our want’s and needs right? A system should be in place to make it a smooth process where we can strengthen our credibility to those companies who don’t always get it from other customers. SIMPLE: we borrowed, we bought, now we owe.

Organization made easy.

Organization made easy.

Want to get a binder going? Here’s how I got started…

  1. Keep calm and breathe. Things may be messy for you right now, but a simple binder or folder with your docs placed in a set order can make your life so much easier and less stressful altogether. You can find a sense of control through the order and structure and control leads to feelings of empowerment.
  2. Buy some page dividers. Create even greater order by dividing your binder into sections. Categorize the set areas by  the following, (e.g., utilities, loans, credit cards etc.) then protect the sheets with plastic sheet protectors, (split coffee during late binder sessions can kill your buzz… no pun intended).
  3. Hold onto at least one or two older bills statements. After you pay a bill, don’t just shred the dated statement. Keep it on file in the binder to serve as a reference. Think: easy access to account numbers, previous balances owed, previous usages or added service fees. You never know if a company will claim they didn’t get a past payment. By having evidence of what the previous statement balance was, you can check bank account to confirm if they did or did not receive the payment.
  4. Consider buying a three hole punch and additional page dividers. Having the right supplies on hand can make it easier to follow through on your promise to keep your bills together in an orderly fashion.
  5. Shred the old. Don’t sacrifice your financial security and privacy by simply trashing the old docs. Use a shredder, scissors and/or a black permanent marker to maintain your privacy and keep unwanted eyes off of your personal information.

It may seem like a lot of work, but within a matter of days to weeks, you should have a semi-complete stack of bills in a pile and on the ready to be filed into your bill binder. Just keep it going. It’s a solid way to feel comfortable with where you are and where you want to go. The journey to sound financial health may be long, but there are tools that can make the trek a little smoother.

If you like this concept and want to follow more of my thoughts, see me @cheapgirlsaves on Twitter. Leave other ideas in the comment section below. I want to know what you have to say and what tips you might have to offer.

Peace and much love.


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