Paying bills can be stressful, but avoiding them can lead to serious consequences, such as late fees and credit damage, as well as a nagging sense of being out of financial control. Here’s how some consumers get themselves in the mood to manage their money.
Few people relish account management because confronting debt and sending the amount they owe is so unpleasant.
It’s a stressful experience. In fact, according to an Aite Group report, 6 in 10 Americans are anxious about their bills. However, avoidance can lead to serious consequences, such as late fees and credit damage, as well as a nagging sense of being out of financial control.
But paying bills must be done, and to make the process easier and more pleasant, you might want to come up with a special ritual to get you in the right mood. For inspiration, here are 16 techniques that others use to their economic advantage.
See related: I’m buried in debt. Can I just stop making payments?
How to get into the mood to pay bills
1. Netflix and bill
How about tuning into some episodes of The Office or Shark Tank to inspire home economic work?
“Every month, the day after payday, my partner and I sit down and pay all of our bills for the month over a cup of coffee and an episode of one of our favorite Netflix shows,” says Jenny Smith, a travel blogger and the founder of MoveToNewZealand.net. “This is when we know we have funds available and won’t end up with any surprises.”
2. Tidy up
“I’ve found I can better deal with my bills when I’m in a calm and relaxed mood,” says Nathan Ripley, who (aptly) runs the house cleaning service, Maid Just Right. “When I start cleaning – and it doesn’t matter what I’m cleaning – I zone out and am in such a relaxed state that I feel great. The physical labor that comes with cleaning everything in and around my house and the mental clarity that quickly follows enables me to deal with all my responsibilities better. Because of that, I’m able to deal with my bills and other obligations better as well.”
3. Walk the dog
“The best thing I’ve found to make me enter the bill-paying mood is to get my dog and go for a long walk,” says Jeremy Rose, who runs the web hosting company CertaHosting. “It can be early in the morning, or even at night … it always works. I’ve found a long walk with a faster than average pace, especially when spending time with my dog, will make me just bear the brunt of the bills and force me to get it over with quickly. A dog really is a man’s best friend.”
See related: Study shows paying down debt is good for your brain
4. Crank your favorite tunes
“On the Saturday morning after I get paid I start my Duran Duran music playlist, open up the YNAB budgeting app to make sure I pay all bills due between now and my next paycheck and rock out while paying them all online,” says Bobbi Olson, host of the CentsAble Chat podcast. “I do this before anything else (except for coffee!) because then the rest of my weekend is free, I don’t have to worry about any money stuff for another two weeks.
“And now I know how much money I have available for my weekend activities,” she added. “I see how much closer I am to reaching my financial goals, and now it’s time to go spend without the guilt. What could be better?”
5. Prepare for pleasure
Making sure that something purely enjoyable is on the horizon helps business coach Stacy Caprio get down to business with her debts.
“I give myself a reward to look forward to after I finish, such as getting to go outside and exercise, eat one of my favorite foods or watch a TV show,” says Caprio. “This helps me focus and get my bills paid quickly so I can move on to the more fun activity.”
6. Enjoy ‘bills Benedict’
Sometimes getting out of the office or home environment can help, as it does for Matthew Woodley, a digital marketing strategist and founder of Woodley Digital Marketing.
“My wife and I go out for breakfast and bring our laptop and pay all of our monthly bills together,” says Woodley. “It’s a nice routine we have going and it’s always good to have a full stomach before paying the bills. We take turns at paying the bills each month, too.”
7. Get crafty
“For me, sitting down to pay bills is an opportunity for a creative outlet,” says April Lee, owner of Hassle Free Savings. “At the end of each month, I prepare a calendar for the following month with all of my bills and amounts due and hang it on the fridge. When it comes time to pay the bills, that’s when my craft supplies come out.
“Each month is a little different,” Lee said. “Sometimes its washi-tape, one month it might be themed stickers. Other months I might just highlight what has been paid. I love having the visual, physical reminder of what has been paid and what is still due. It may seem juvenile, but at 38 it’s still fun to have an excuse to decorate things!”
8. Adopt an attitude of gratitude
Linda Ruescher, who helps people contend with chronic illnesses, says she intentionally reframes her relationship with bills before she gets started.
“Instead of, ‘Oh no, I have to sit down and pay the bills,’ I think, ‘I am thankful that I have the means to pay my bills,’” says Ruescher. “Bills demonstrate that companies have faith in me. Isn’t that nice?”
9. Watch a motivational video
To enter the bill-paying ring, Jacob Dayan, CEO and co-founder of Community Tax and Finance Pal, first watches motivational entrepreneur videos.
“As weird as it may sound, listening and watching reminds me of why I’m doing all this work in the first place,” says Dayan. “It helps me overcome the feeling of guilt that comes with paying money for large bills and expenses. I’d recommend this method to anyone who has to pay off large sums of debt.”
10. Nail it
“When payday hits, my bills are screaming at me to pay them,” says Jasmine Edwards, relationship coach and founder of the nonprofit organization Move Beyond Inc.
So she calculates her expenses, grabs her debit card and pays off as many as she can.
“It seems to always tend to be close to 4 a.m. when I get the guts to pay the majority of my bills,” says Edwards. “As I see that dollar amount for my debt has gone down I gleam with pride because I know that I’m being mature and responsible. I roll back over to go to sleep and about five hours later, I book my appointment with a nail salon to get my mani-pedi in order to reward myself for my bravery in tackling adulthood!”
11. Clear the workspace
“I usually sit at my dining room table with my laptop after the kids are in bed and get to work,” says Amanda Swoverland, chief risk officer for Sunrise Banks. “I need to carve out at least 30 minutes to make sure I’ve got a good chunk of time to get things in order. I’m also a person who needs a clean, dedicated workspace – I can’t get anything done if I’m surrounded by a mess.
“The half-hour I use to pay bills also serves as a good time to shred any junk mail I have,” Swoverland says. “So, on top of bill-paying, this time is also spent tidying up. Life always feels more manageable when you get rid of unnecessary paper.”
12. Java and soothing sounds
According to Brian Meiggs, founder of the personal finance site My Millennial Guide, the key is to make the task uniquely entertaining.
“For me, I usually pay the bills within the first few days of the new month,” says Meiggs. “That alone makes me get into the mood. Beyond that, I do make sure I have a good cup of coffee by my side and some relaxing music playing on the speakers. That usually does the trick!”
13. Create color codes
Brittany Gamble, a social media specialist for MyCorporation.com, loves planning and organization. She says making a colorful list or calendar of when, where and how much to pay for certain bills helps her.
“It’s honestly my favorite way to get into a responsible mindset,” says Gamble. “And to make things better, I color coordinate my bills. Rent is highlighted in pink, the electricity bill is Pikachu yellow, internet is baby blue (which is also my favorite color) and orange is my car insurance. I think organizing and color coordinating is such a fun way to get in the bill paying mood!”
14. Wager on winnings
Author Carol Gee gets inspired to manage her accounts by first reviewing how much cash she might have won from lottery tickets.
“If I have bought lottery tickets I will check them, and scratch off all my scratchers,” says Gee. “After all, the Georgia Lottery slogan is ‘Today could be the day,’ so I check to see if that is true. A few times it has been.
“Once I won $500,” she said. “That amount covered three utility bills, saving me monies in my accounts. Another time I won $40, and that paid for gas and investment in more lottery tickets. Paying bills isn’t the most fun I could have but it’s a necessity. Discovering I have extra money to do so makes it less of a chore.”
15. Day at the cafe
“Get the bills paid, and you can treat yourself to something,” says Tara Goodfellow, managing director for Athena Educational Consultants “For me, it’s a coffee drink at a local coffee shop. Plus, I want my caffeine early in the morning, so I am motivated to complete bill paying so that I can get the drink.”
Some of us may need caffeine to think clearly enough pay the bills in the first place. If that describes you, consider something else as an immediate reward, such as sushi or a long hike, Goodfellow says.
See related: How to earn rewards when paying monthly bills
16. Journal it
Belinda Ginter, a blogger and “mindset” expert, ritualizes bill paying by journaling.
“I keep a money magnet log every day,” says Ginter. “When I wake up in the morning I go on to my online banking and record all the money I have available to me in my saving and checking account. I also include the money left available to me on credit cards and lines of credit. What this does is make me feel abundant and it takes the focus away from debt and on to how abundant I am right now.”
Since Ginter completes the log every morning, she always feels positive about her financial situation.
What motivates you to pay bills?
How can you make your own money and credit management system far more pleasant than it is today? Dig deep into what might motivate you.
Or, steal someone else’s idea. They won’t mind.