It’s now Week 3 of the Revamped and Revised 52 Week Prosperity Plan! It’s amazing how we’re just rolling along!
During week 2, we talked about the importance of having a system in place. Systems help us keep organized and on track. What’s nice about systems is that they don’t live in a vacuum; they can change and grow with our needs and priorities. But the most crucial part is that you just have a system in place, regardless of what it looks like.
I’m not going to lie to you. I didn’t create a new system. I already have a system in place to pay bills that I’m very happy with and it’s been working quite well for me for the last 5 years. Essentially, I write my monthly bills on a page in my budget notebook (yes, I still use pen and paper for this) and make 2 columns—1 for each payday. I then list which bills get paid on which payday, along with the amount of cash I’m going to need for the next 2 weeks. I also balance my checkbook and submit all Dependent Care paperwork on payday.
This system didn’t materialize overnight. I had to refine it over time until it fit my needs and my payday schedule.  I’ve even contacted a creditor or utility company to request a change in due date to ensure that nothing was paid late. I decided I wanted them to work my system, not the other way around. It was easy to do, too. I just made a phone call or put in an online request and like magic, I had a new due date! This doesn’t always work (ex., my electric/gas provider) but it’s always worth a shot.
So how’d your Week 2 go? Did you create a system? What worked for you? What didn’t work for you in your system creation?
What’s next?
Now that we’re organized and have a system in place, it’s time to start thinking about creating a schedule. What’s the difference between a system and a schedule? In my world, a system is how we do something; a schedule is when we do it. For instance, my system for bill paying is writing a list, breaking down the list, going to the bank and completing paperwork. The schedule for paying bills is every other week, on payday Friday, in the morning.
Why in the morning? I take care of bills in the morning because that way, if I notice a problem, I have the day to deal with it. Since I get paid on Fridays, I don’t want to notice an error and then be stuck, stewing in impatience, until Monday morning. I’m also the most alert first thing in the morning and make less math errors during that time of day.  That’s just what works for me. A different time may work for you. For instance, when I was a kid, I remember my father balancing the checkbook every Sunday night. I know someone else who does it every Friday night while she’s doing laundry. Like a system,  you need to pick a schedule that works for you.
Having a schedule, like having a system, helps us stay organized. Remember how hard it was to get organized during Week 1? It took a lot of time and energy and work. We don’t want to have to do that again. By implementing a schedule, we won’t undo that hard work.
Creating a schedule
If you’re creating a schedule for money management, I suggest you start by writing down in a calendar (either paper or electronic) your paydays. Think about when you are most alert and have the time to deal with writing checks (do people still do that?) or accessing your accounts. Balance that with the rest of your activities—work, kids, exercise, etc. Paying bills is serious business and you want to give it your full attention. When do you have the most undivided time to pay attention and get it done? Note that day or time and write it down. Make it an appointment, just like you would the dentist or a haircut. Set a reminder for yourself for that time. Keep it consistent and eventually, it will become part of your routine.
Good luck creating your schedule this week! If you already have a schedule, reexamine it. Is it still working for you or can it be revised? If it needs work, take some time this week to change it up so that it works for you. If you have a solid schedule, please share what you’re doing in the comments.  Maybe you’ll provide a helpful hint!