Who else wants to save time, money and have less stress when managing their personal finances?

I recently posted Who else wants to simplify their bill paying? discuss how to set up a simplified bill paying system.  Now would like to show you how you can automate your bill paying system to make it easier to simplify your personal finances.  Here are five ways you can automate your bill paying system and eliminate the need to write checks which can save you time and money.

Use bill pay service – Sign up for one of the many bill pay services now available to help you with your bill paying.  By using bill pay service, you will eliminate the need to sit down with your check book and write out those monthly checks to pay bills.  By using bill pay service you can almost eliminate your check book for good.  Check with your current bank first to see what bill pay service they offer you as an existing customer.

Set up alerts and reminders – Begin using a reminder services or set up your own personal reminder service with an online calendar such as Google calendar.  Use the calendar to remind you when the bill will be due or remind you to make sure the bill payment service your using has paid the bills you have set up.  Using reminders and alerts, you eliminate the chance of you forgetting to make payment.  Setting these alerts up properly there will be no more excuses for those late payments.

Use credit card – Have your bills charge directly to your credit card.  By using credit card you will not have to remember to pay multiple bills.  You will only have to remember to pay one bill which makes it easy.   You also will not have to worry about your payment being delayed in the mail because payment will be charged to your credit card.

Use auto debit -If your not comfortable using your credit card to pay your bills, consider having your bills auto debited from your bank account.  Using auto debit as your method of paying bills, will eliminate the need to write checks as well as stress worrying if payment will arrive on time.

Eliminate your paper statements – Now that you have eliminated the need to write checks to pay your bills by using credit cards, bill pay service, or auto debiting your bank account your still spending time every month filing away those paper statements.  If this is the case, you can eliminate the paper statements by signing up for paperless statements.  Instead of receiving your monthly statments by snail mail, you will receive your statements by email.  This will hopefully eliminate the need for you to spend time manually filing away those paper statements.  If you want to keep copies of your statement set up files on your computer to maintain these statements.

By implementing these simple tips, you can save yourself valuable time each month.  Instead of paying bills you can spend those extra hours doing something you enjoy.  Also doing this will make your life less stressful since you are not worrying if a bill was paid or rushing to post office to make sure your payment will arrive on time.  So take action by implementing one of these five tips so you begin to live a simplified financial lifestyle as well as save time, money and have less stress.

Which of these five tips have you implemented to simplify your bill paying process?

How will you fund your emergency fund?

In Be prepared for the unexpected with an emergency fund I discuss why you need an emergency fund and the benefits of having one if your looking to simplify your finances.  The questions now is how will you fund your emergency fund?

I believe you need to have a cash emergency fund instead of relying on credit cards or home equity lines of credit.

Here are reasons why credit card and lines of credit are not reliable sources of emergency fund:

Credit Card Issuers: Buy Something or Else! – credit card companies are cutting credit card limits as well as closing credit cards that because of non-use.  So if you have a credit card for emergency purposes and you have not used it recently it may be at risk closing.  This can have significant impact on your personal finances.

Can’t borrow from home equity line of credit – Some financial institution may block you from borrowing from your line of credit. Make sure you read your loan documents to see if this can happen to you.

Credit Card holders are being squeezed – So that means it is possible that your credit card company has cut your credit limit in half thus reducing your available funds for emergency.

More lowering of credit card limits – Hope I get my point across. Relying on your credit card to get you through an emergency may not be the wise thing to do.

Homeowners losing equity lines – Home equity lines of credit are not what they used to be.

Home equity lines of credit next – Why you do not want to rely on home equity to fund your emergency.

Lenders cut lines off – Its not just home equity lines of credit. If you have a personal line of credit you want to make sure its still available to be used.

BOA No credit for you – One more story to think about. This could be you.

Here are more articles discussing ways to funded your emergency fund:

Emergency Fund Math -How much have you saved in your emergency fund and how did you come up with that number?

21 strategies for creating emergency fund – I am sure you can implement one of these strategies to fund your emergency fund.

Figuring the size of emergency fund – Wisebread explains how to size up your emergency fund.

Steps to build you emergency fund – Five simple step to build your cash emergency fund.

How much cash do I need for E-Fund – Money Under Thirty shows you how to calculate you emergency fund as well as provides a free spreadsheet to help.

Hope these articles makes you rethink how you will fund your emergency fund and why the prefer funding method is cash.  So take action and begin to fund your emergency fund with cash in a high yielding savings account.

Who else wants to simplify their bill paying?

Are you tired of seeing those late charges on your credit card statement or other monthly statement?  Why not review your bill paying system to help you avoid those unsightly late fees.  Establishing a good billing system will not only help you avoid paying those late fees it will also help you simplify your personal finances.

Here are five steps to help you simplify your bill paying system which will eliminate those late fees and help you develop a simple personal financial lifestyle:

Keep bills in one location – When you check your mail immediately sort the mail to separate your bills from your other mail.  Then place your bills in one central location.  You want to place your bills in one location so you do not miss place your bills and spend unnecessary time looking for them when it is time to pay them.  You may want to place them in a desk draw, file cabinet, or separate file folder.  Some place where you will not forget about them.

Select a bill paying day – Choose a specific day per week or day every other week to pay all of your bills.  You decide what works best for you.  You probably will want to pay all of your bills close to your payday.  By selecting a day you have committed yourself to get this done, it will help you not forget about your bills because they are all in one place so you know what you need to pay.  By paying once or twice per month you will not have to keep checking to see if you have money in your account for each bill because you paying the bills all at one time.  You may want to consider changing the date when the bill is due so its close to the time when you plan to pay your bills. You want to make your bill paying process as convenient as possible for you.

Record your payment – Recording your payment in your checkbook will help you keep accurate records of you account balances so you can avoid overdrawing your account.  It also helps you remember if the bill was if you keep a copy of bill or bill stub with date that the bill was paid.  You should do this when you pay the bill because if you don’t you may forget when you paid the bill and how much the check was written for.

File payment – Once your bills have been paid and recorded in your check register.  You should file your bills in their respective files for future reference.  You want to have a file for each bill that you pay so you can retrieve it quickly if needed and you do not have to sort through several other bills to find the specific bills your looking for.

Use financial management software – You should use financial management to help with your bill pay process.  Financial software you can easily set up reminders when a bill is coming due especially for those bills you pay semi-annually or just annually so you can remember to pay them.  It also enables you to track your spending and help you create a budget.  Financial software will help streamline the manual bill paying process.

These five steps will help you save time, money, and reduce stress when it comes time to pay your bills because you will be better organized.  So take action by reviewing your current bill paying system and begin to implement these steps to help you simplify your personal finances.

How do you simplify your billing process?

Six ways to knockout those pesky non-bank ATM fees to help simplify your personal finances

Do you dread seeing those non-bank ATM fees on your bank statement?  Do you wish you could eliminate those fees?  Well today is your lucky day.  Here are six ways to help you eliminate those pesky non-bank ATM fees while simplifying your personal finances at the same time:

Know your cash needs – Many times the reason we are charged those non-ATM fees is because we do not plan ahead.  Knowing your daily cash needs will help you avoid using the non-bank ATM.  Creating a budget or spending plan will help you determine your daily cash needs.  By having budget you will know what your cash needs are so you will not have to visit that non-bank ATM and incur those dreaded ATM fees.

Limit your ATM transaction - Try to limit your ATM use to once per week when you know you will be able to use your bank’s ATM.  I will assume your bank is either close to your home or job.  Decide what day of the week is most convenient for you to make your weekly withdrawal so you’re not spending unnecessary time searching for your bank’s ATM or being charge unnecessary fees because you did not plan ahead.  If you only go to your bank’s ATM once a week it also helps you control your spending because if your out of cash you know you have gone over your weekly budget.

Use only your bank’s ATM – The easiest way to eliminate those ugly ATM fees is to only use your bank’s ATM.  If you find yourself constantly using the same non-bank ATM, why not consider either opening an account at that bank or moving your entire banking relationship to that bank.  See Things to consider when opening a bank account.

Use debit card instead of cash – Stop using cash will eliminate your ATM usage.  How can I stop using cash?  Begin to use a debit card for all of your purchases instead of cash.  Most places will accept debit cards.  Not only will using a debit card eliminate the need to withdraw cash it will also help you manage your spending.  Every time you use your debit card it will be shown in your account activity on your bank statement or shown online.  Many times we forget how much we spend when we use cash unless you keep track of your cash receipts.  With a debit card you do not have to keep track of your spending it will automatically be tracked ever time you use your card.  This will help simplify your personal finances.

Use credit card instead of cash – Similar to using a debit card you can use a credit card for your usual cash purchases.  Using a credit card will also enable you to track your spending.  Using a credit card you may benefit if you use a rewards card.  I would only recommend using a credit card if you pay off your account balance at the end of each month.  DO NOT USE A CREDIT CARD if you carry a balance on your card every month.

Get cash without using an ATM – The old fashion way to withdraw money is to go to your local bank teller and request a withdrawal from your account.  This is probably not the most convenient way but it still can be done.  Another way to get cash without using an ATM so you can avoid non-bank ATM fees is to receive cash back when you use your debit card for purchases while shopping at your local grocery store or local drug store.

Take action to eliminate those non bank ATM fees by reviewing your ATM usage for the week.  Think about how many times you used the ATM and how many times you were charged.  Now determine how you will change your ATM usage to simplify your personal financial lifestyle.  Let me know how you have eliminated or reduced your ATM usage to avoid those pesky non-bank ATM fees.