Debt expert Scott Bilker says the first step toward debt elimination is to get organized. He says many people get into debt and stay there because they have a hard time keeping track of their bills. “Have a functional checking account and develop a filing system for all of your bills and debts,” he says. Bilker, a prolific author on the subject of debt and owner of the web site Debtsmart.com, says that debt can bury people, both literally and figuratively. “Some people have that stuff piled up on the kitchen table, and that’s going to be their downfall. There is no way to know what to do if you don’t know where you are.”
Develop a system for handling bills as soon as they’re received. Create a separate file for each bill you pay each month. Open your mail as soon as you get home and find a place for each piece. If you tend to dump your mail in a certain spot, set up bins in that area to sort your mail as soon as you bring it in. Use one bin for junk mail, another for personal mail and another for reading material. Record the amount owed and the due date of each bill in your calendar, and then file bills right away in a “to be paid” folder.
A great way to keep track of bills is to use online banking, scheduling payments and reminders ahead of time. You can even set up automatic payments each month. In addition, using accounting software such as Quicken or QuickBooks is a great way to handle your bills and payments.
This is a great time to get organized. When all that paper is put away, you’ll feel more in control of your surroundings, not to mention your debt.