Do you grumble and feel resentment while you pay bills? Does it feel like there’s never enough, and moving off the grid is beginning to sound better and better? Or do you feel lighthearted and grateful for the goods or services you have been provided? A mindful attitude toward your view of money is a sensitive indicator of the richness or poverty of your spirit, and it is vital to your relationship with money. Take a moment to look at last month’s checking account and credit card bill, if you have one. What’s your attitude toward expenses? Does your spending reflect your fundamental values? If not, what changes can you make?
Even though it sometimes feels as though we cannot alter our point of view, we do have choices about the attitude we bring forward. A choice to be grateful for what’s been given and received instead of indulging in a poverty of spirit that blames others for overcharging, cheating, or having more than their share. Whenever the seeds of arrogance begin to sprout, some insecurity takes root and causes us to forget our true worth. In contrast, having gratitude and humility frees us from having anything to prove. Instead, we’re secure in our identities and choices.
Years ago, I worked with a young woman who resented paying her bills every month. Feeling her frustration, I reminded her how difficult her life would if she didn’t have lights or heat in her apartment, and that she was paying her bills after receiving these gifts. She had a big “AHA! Moment” and decided to place a big red bow around her mailbox. This bow reminded her to be grateful when her bills arrived in the mail.
Paying bills also involves self-discipline. The word discipline comes from the Latin root discipulus, which translates to “a learner.” A disciple is someone who learns from a master teacher, who comes from the same root. So self-discipline is like being a disciple for yourself. This shift in mindset can soften our perspective on things we “have to” do, like paying bills. When self-discipline is applied, two things happen. First, financial priorities take the appropriate place in our responsibilities so that thoughts and actions align with intentions. Secondly, patterns of behavior around money that prevent actualizing intentions begin to fade.
Think back to the young woman I mentioned previously. To pay her bills on time, she created a list of all of her monthly bills and their due dates and then divided them into two-time frames that aligned with her two paychecks. By doing this, she created a financial priority, an intention to pay her bills on time. Her actions were in alignment with her intentions. This simple method organized her behavior
s to actualize intentions.
Paying bills also involves patience. Take time to connect with the truth of your bills, and be willing to look at the details of what you owe. This simple process can eliminate errors and overpayment for services you don’t need. This practice involves shifting your attitude. Knowing you are fulfilling intentions, you can give the work your complete focus.
Many people use the automatic bill paying software to make their lives easier. Even though this removes the act of paying bills from your routine, continue to pay attention to the fluctuations in your bank balance. No matter how money leaves your account, you are still part of an equation that requires mindfulness, a positive attitude, self-discipline, and patience.
Here are some simple tips for developing good habits and routines:
- Create a home for your bills when they arrive. Use a basket, a folder or expanding file folder, or a drawer.
- Pay your bills on a regular basis. If you get paid twice a month, then it makes sense to pay your bills that often as well.
- Take a seat and pay your bills in the same place every time. It might be at your kitchen table or in front of your home office computer. Pick a location that works for you.
- Keep all necessary supplies for bill paying together. Have things like stamps, envelopes, return labels, a stapler, pen, and calculator readily available so that you can stay focused and save time.
- Record your payments immediately. Whether you pay online or write your checks each month, record your payments in your checkbook or a software program. Keeping your balance current will help you avoid overdrafts.
With these simple steps, you’ll be on your way to conscious bill paying, and you will save money in the process. How do you feel when you pay your bills?
Guest Contributor: Donna Colfer, AFC®