How do you remember to pay bills that aren’t billed?

Back in the day, like a month or two ago, I would write out the check for daycare when I was writing out the mortgage check, generally sometime after we got DH’s second payroll of the month but before I got my monthly pay.  It was a nice system.  I’d also do the piano lesson monthly check and the violin lesson check at the same time (both music lessons are supposed to bill us via email, but they don’t always get around to it before daycare is due).  Most of our other bills auto-bill to the credit card which makes life a lot easier.

Our credit card bills, although they get taken out of checking sometime in the second week of the month, actually come at a time that is completely inappropriate for trying to remember to pay the kids’ bills.  I don’t really want to change when we get them because that would also change when they take money out of the account, and I like when they’re situated right now.

So now I have to have some way of remembering that it’s the first of the month and we need to pay these bills.   This month what happened was on the 2nd of the month I dropped DC2 off at daycare (normally DH’s job) and as I walked out the door I noticed a sign reminding us to pay for the month (and that this month is silly sock Fridays).  Sadly, DH never looks at these signs even though he’s the most likely to see them.

DH did put a reminder on his phone google calendar as a back-up plan.  I might also do that on my work calendar, but I usually only look at that at work where I don’t have my checkbook, so it would just add to my mental clutter.

As for me, I need to pin the paying the daycare event to some other event.  It can’t be “I get paid” because that doesn’t happen during the summer (though that’s probably what I’ll be doing in the absence of other cues).  It can’t be “DH gets paid” because his first paycheck is too late and his second is way too early.  This month I’ll be looking for other end of the month/first of the month cues to see if paying the daycare can be added as a new habit.

I am strongly tempted to just prepay for the rest of the year, except that last time I did that the daycare went out of business.

How do you remember to pay bills that aren’t actually billed?

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41 Responses to “How do you remember to pay bills that aren’t billed?”

  1. NZ Muse Says:

    Hmm, I don’t think I have any bills that fall into this category… If I did, I would chuck them in my Google Calendar.

  2. Zenmoo Says:

    Umm, pretty much everything is an scheduled auto-payment or I just aim to pay immediately on completing the activity (e.g. Piano lesson).

  3. Meaghan Says:

    Can’t you just schedule a recurring autopay from your checking account? That’s how I used to do it when daycare stopped accepting credit cards.

    • Leah Says:

      yes, our daycare has an ACH option to autopay from checking on a weekly basis. We don’t use it because we don’t do summer daycare; paying by check means we only pay for weeks we need.

      Also, didn’t you get an iphone? There’s a remind feature on there you can use. You can set it to any date/time you like, so your phone could ping you at a time when you reliably know you’ll be home and able to write a check. I think you can also snooze the reminds just like you’d snooze an alarm clock.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        DH has it set up on his phone, but neither of us are perfect about paying attention to phone notices. Him because he gets so many, me because I regularly forget to look at the phone or even carry it for days at a time. I have the checkbook on weekends but mostly leave the phone in my bag on weekends.

      • The frugal ecologist Says:

        My bank has a bill pay feature that sends in a paper check. I do this for everything that requires a check that is the same amount each month. You can add any payee and schedule payments. I was constantly forgetting daycare check until I did this.

      • bogart Says:

        Yes, my CU offers the same function and I do the same thing. I’ve even been known to schedule it to print checks (made out to someone else) and mail them to my house (so that I can hand the check to the person myself) occasionally. Though this post reminds me that I need to check on when the insurance will be due, as they pay way far in advance and I prefer to pay that one by CC — no extra cost and hey, miles!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Just checked, my CU does not offer that service. (Shouldn’t be surprising– they still use vacuum tubes at the drive-through and their single atm is frequently broken.) Wells Fargo probably does offer that service, but then I’d have to set up an auto-transfer. But it’s something I can look into.

      • Contingent Cassandra Says:

        That’s frustrating (that neither the CU nor the daycare offer that option). The only bill of this sort that I used to have was a monthly contribution to my church, and my payments got much more regular when they set up a direct debit option. Of course I’d only do that with an organization I really trust, but the church to which I’ve belonged for decades falls in that category.

      • Rosa Says:

        I kind of feel like, if you’re a business that doesn’t invoice on time and only accepts paper checks, then you’re accepting late payments as part of the costs of how you do business.

        We used to pay the daycare late all the time. Eventually she’d catch us at the door and say “send a check in the diaper bag tomorrow!” and then we would. People with busy schedules and little kids forget things.

  4. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Probably what I should do is figure out a way to send myself a recurring email reminder (an invoice to myself!), not just a phone bong or a flashing outlook screen that gets dismissed and forgotten. Does anybody use gmail or another program to do that?

    • bogart Says:

      Boomerang will let you schedule emails, so that could work. Qualtrics also allows email scheduling, obviously not the really relevant tool for this, but workable. I imagine there are others…

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Haha, I wonder if that counts as a legitimate use of university resources…

      • bogart Says:

        Haha indeed, good point. I’m guessing not! Boomerang OK, though (well, I mean, it’s a free add-on so need need to involve your university accounts in it!).

    • Contingent Cassandra Says:

      Google calendar will send a “notification” via email. Even if it’s not your main calendaring system, it’s easy to set up a calendar just for that purpose if you already have a gmail account (or even if you don’t).

  5. Sunflower Says:

    For our daycare we just write a few month’s worth of post dated cheques and then they cash them as needed. We don’t pay upfront but then they have the cheques for the next 5-6 months. When they run out of post dated cheques, they email to let us know to bring more.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Huh, I wonder if they would be amenable to that…

    • Contingent Cassandra Says:

      Or just write the checks and stick them in your wallet, to be handed over as appropriate?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        … I don’t have a wallet… (or a purse…)
        (I’m not being difficult, honest! I have a very large keychain with a card-holder that doesn’t fit much besides my cards. Plus it’s generally DH who needs to drop off the check anyway. He also does not have a wallet, just a card holder that doesn’t even fit all his cards. Plus it’s the remembering to put into the slot thing that’s the main problem– he sometimes doesn’t remember even if I’ve remembered to write the check. For that we now tape the check at exactly eye-level for him on the door leading to the garage or on DC1’s lunchbag. But he still sometimes carries it around a few days. Which is better than just leaving it next to the door. Or me not writing it in the first place.)

      • Rosa Says:

        do you regularly have to send extra clothes or lunches or something with the child? You could stash them in that bag.

  6. Nanani Says:

    Phone reminders, and just picking a date.
    I’m a freelancer, and I have specific days of the month set aside for organizational things, including paying bills.

    Pick a number and associate it with paying bills. For me it’s the 16th.
    Of course, I have the sort of brain that allows me to equate numbers with events that way.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Days in months all sort of run together. My life is structured weekly– teach on these days, meetings on these other days, (also: piano on Tuesdays, violin on Wednesdays… ) etc. If months were all divisible by 7, this would be a lot easier.

  7. monsterzero Says:

    I have a Payables Schedule which is a little list at the bottom of my spreadsheet. I get paid twice a month, and when I do, I check the sched and pay what’s on the list. I usually end up paying my credit cards twice a month, which lets me skip the occasional payment when I’m carrying a balance.

    Could you prepay for just the summer? And then start paying on paydays when they start again in the fall?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      In the fall, dc2 will be in either K or 1, so this will be a non-issue (except if any other monthly non-invoiced expenses crop up).

      It might be worth just prepaying, I dunno. Or swallowing a late fee since presumably they’ll invoice us if we forget to pay.

      • Leah Says:

        Since DC2 is so close to being done, perhaps it would be worth pre-paying in one or two chunks. Not as much money to lose if they go belly-up but more convenient for you.

      • tracylee Says:

        I’m curious about the k or 1 comment. I have 3 children – oldest in k. He went into k reading at a 3rd grade level, but needed the soft skills stuff (and has a great teacher). Younger 2 have birthdays in late September and late August, so we’ll have to decide about sending them to k at almost 5/barely 5. How will you decide on k/1? I’m not sure I want the younger 2 to be the youngest in their class. I don’t want to decide based on cost of preschool tuition either. Any thoughts? Thanks.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I have a LOT of thoughts on this because we went through it with our DC1 (who is currently grade-skipped two grades and thriving in 6th grade). If you want to see how we made our DC1 decisions, click on the “gifted” tab (or the “kid” tab, but that has a lot more other stuff as well).

        Even if we don’t gradeskip, DC2 will be among the youngest in hir K class– zie was born two days before the cutoff. This does not bother us.

        Remember too, it is easier to repeat a grade or drop out than it is to have them them skip a grade if you feel like things aren’t working out.

        To answer your question for DC2, if zie gets into the dual language program zie won’t skip K (because zie will be learning Spanish and thus will still be challenged in school), but if zie doesn’t then we’ll put hir in 1st (because zie will need challenge).

  8. Leigh Says:

    Our new credit union’s auto bill pay feature requires you to schedule the withdrawal date and then it takes 7-9 business days to get to the place. Our previous credit union’s auto bill pay feature let you schedule the delivery date and then they would figure out when to send the check. So in order for the HOA dues check to get to my building by the first, I need to set up the auto bill pay for the 21st of the previous month :/ This all feels really silly when the person responsible for depositing the checks has been doing so at the very end of the month… This is all important because I would forget to write the check on the 1st and drop it in the mailbox because my schedule is day of the week dependent not month day dependent. If we get annoyed enough with the credit union bill pay we might open up a checking account at the bank where the HOA is and then we can do automatic monthly transfers on the 1st with way less effort.

    I hate monthly bills.

  9. Debbie M Says:

    Around mid-month, I make sure the mid-month bills are paid. Then at the beginning of the month when I’m tallying up my finances, I make sure everything else is paid before I decide how much to transfer into savings. The fact that I get paid monthly on the first helps.

    Do you still tally financial things up monthly? If so, maybe that could be your trigger.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I do tally things up monthly, but sometimes that doesn’t happen until after the daycare bills are due. :/ One of the “problems” with having a lot of float is that it’s not so urgent to check. (That said, I totally checked the account today to see if DH got paid today. He did!)

  10. chacha1 Says:

    A couple of my bills are charged automagically to one of my credit cards (cell phone, Hulu), so I never have to remember them.

    Otherwise, I get paid every other Friday, so I just look at what time of the month it is, check my budget, and pay whatever bills are on the horizon that I haven’t already paid. I get email from the power company, auto/renter’s insurance, and credit cards when a bill is available to be paid and then I just go to my checking account and set up the payment. The life insurance company sends paper bills (though I pay online). Currently I have enough of a “float” (i.e. extra money in my checking account) that I rarely wait for a payday to send a payment.

    Personally I think if a service provider is not issuing a printed bill, they need to send one by email. It’s a pretty basic part of doing business. And honestly if I were a freelance music teacher, I would have a PayPal account set up, and provide a link to it in my email that said “hey! your lessons cost $ please pay me.” It’s my responsibility to make sure I get paid.

    In the absence of a paycheck or other such regular reminder about income/outgo, maybe turn it into a game with the kids and let THEM remember it for you. :-)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      The music teachers do invoice, they just don’t always remember to do it before the daycare bill is due (sometimes it takes them a week or so to notice that the new month has started). One of them used to invoice via paypal, but she had technical difficulties with it and then started seemingly randomly cancelling lessons and now wants to get paid by the lesson. So DH has been bringing cash. *sigh* We’re switching to a different violin teacher in the summer.

  11. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    Ditto GCal reminders. I set a monthly recurring “appointment” for paying daycare and it emails me the day before. It’s not perfect, I don’t ALWAYS check the calendar but I have been living on there lately thanks to all the home stuff. If I needed PiC to know about it, I would set it as a meeting invite for both of us and then we’d both get reminders. For now, we both see it but only I pay it.

  12. J Liedl Says:

    Evernote reminders with a due date . When I log into the bank account (usually just twice monthly), i check to see if there’s anything to be paid and either pay it then or set up a payment on the due date.


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