Paying bills can teach us many lessons. It’s even cause for gratitude when seen in the right light. In our daily lives it’s easy to forget the co-creative dance with those people from whom we’ve bought goods and services. Considering our lifestyle, we learn to make choices about how we allocate our resources and what’s most important to us. Paying bills tells us a lot about ourselves.
Do you grumble and feel resentment while you pay bills? Does it feel like there’s never enough, and thoughts of moving off the grid are looking better and better? Or do you feel lighthearted and grateful for the goods or services provided in keeping you comfortable? Mindfulness of attitude toward your view of money is a sensitive indicator of the richness or poverty of spirit, and is important to your particular 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 basic values? If not, what changes can you make?
Even though it doesn’t feel as if we can alter our points of view, we do have choices about the attitudes we bring forward. Choices: gratitude for what’s given and received vs. indulgence in a poverty of spirit that blames others for overcharging or 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.
I remember years ago working with a young woman who resented paying her bills every month. She felt entitled and she was a bit arrogant. I reminded her how things would be without lights or heat in her apartment, and that she was paying her bill after receiving these gifts. She had a big AHA! moment and decided to place a big red bow around her mailbox to remind her to be grateful when her bills arrived in the mail.
Paying bills also involves self-discipline. Often consistent discipline triggers us into feeling we have to crack the whip. The word discipline comes from the Latin root discipulus, which translates to “a learner.” Disciple–one who learns from a master teacher–comes from the same root. So another way to look at self-discipline is being a disciple for yourself, softening our outlook on the “have to” aspect of paying bills.
When self-discipline is applied, two things happen, financial priorities take the appropriate place in our responsibilities so that thoughts and actions align with intentions; and, secondly, patterns of behavior around money that prevent actualizing intentions fade. An example, going back to the young woman I mentioned, was that she created a list of all monthly bills and their due dates and divided them into two time frames that matched her two paychecks. She created her financial priority, an intention to pay bills on time. Her actions were in alignment with her intention. This simple method organized her behaviors to actualize intentions.
Paying bills also involves patience. Take time to connect with the truth of your bills, and a willingness to look at the details of what’s owed. This can eliminate errors, and overpayment for services you don’t really need. Once again, this involves shifting your attitude from believing you’re doing a mundane job into giving the task your complete focus, knowing you’re fulfilling intentions.
Many use 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 your bank balance as you see it decrease. No matter how money leaves your account, you are still part of an equation that requires mindfulness, a good attitude, self-discipline, and patience (the Magician and Warrior money types).
Here are some simple tips for developing good habits and routines:
- Create a home for your bills when they arrive. You can use a basket, folder or an expanding file, or 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. This might be at your kitchen table, a desk in a corner, or in front of your computer in your home office.
- Keep all necessary supplies for bill paying together. The obvious things like stamps, envelopes, return labels, a stapler, pen and calculator should also be handy. This will keep you focused on your task thus saving time looking for things.
- Whether you pay online or write your checks each month, record your payments immediately, either in your checkbook or in 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 saving money in the process. How do you feel when you pay your bills?