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This chapter is from the book

Finding the Best Way to Pay

The companies you owe money to are very helpful when it's time to pay them; most provide a number of ways to give them money, whether by mail, phone, their Web site, your bank's Web site, or in person, and most will take various forms of money as well: paper check, one-time or recurring automatic transfer from checking, credit card, money order, cash, chickens. (Chickens are the least common.)

With such a dazzling array of fabulous ways to separate yourself from your funds, how can you choose which is best? Consider these questions:

  • How comfortable are you with technology?—Are you able to retain control when weird things start happening with your computer, or would you panic if your screen went blank just after you entered your credit card number and just before you clicked Submit? Would it be better for your blood pressure to stick with paper checks and the good ol' postal service?

  • How important is saving time to you?—Are you willing to endure some new processes and additional expenses if they will save you time? In your experience, has the so-called time savings of a computerized system actually taken longer than doing the task the old-fashioned way?

  • How reliable is your Internet connection?—If you get the unexpected "Goodbye" from AOL on a regular basis, think twice before you delve into online banking and bill-paying.

  • Do the particular workings of your mind require that you choose one payment method and use it for all of your bills?—Or are you okay with using different methods for different payees, depending on the circumstances of each?

This should give you some idea of which of the payment options in the next section will be best for you.

Share with a Friend

If you find that you can easily tell a friend how to set up a money management system but you sometimes struggle to handle your own, do what professional organizers do: Trade! Don't tell them I told you, but organizers sometimes need an organizer. We, too, become emotionally paralyzed with our own papers and clutter, even as we remain efficient and upbeat when helping a client.

Find a friend who also has a hard time with the process and partner up. Tell each other the amount of money available, trade checkbooks, and write out each other's bills. It works because the task is not nearly as emotional when you're dealing with someone else's money (or belongings or paperwork). If you like it, tackle each other's closets!

To do list

  • Set up a bill-paying system based on paper, software, or the Internet.

  • Use your system.

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