Death, Taxes, and Other Important Stuff 178 Action Tactic If you tend to put off paying bills for any reason--difficulty managing your money, lack of organization, or resentment toward having to pay them--automated systems can help. Ask your bank and your cred- itors about automatic payment options (having payments sent directly from your checking account on designated dates). Personal finance software, such as Quicken and Microsoft Money, can also set up automatic payments. 2. 3. Lack of organization.Some people don't pay bills merely because they lose track of what needs to be paid and when to pay it. When their bills come in the mail, they let them get scattered all over home or office and don't keep any logs or schedules of payments due and payments made. They also might not file their payment receipts or bill stubs well, so they can't keep track of what they've already paid. Solution:Use the stacking tray sorting system described in Chapter 10 so that you can put all your bills in one place for easy access. Some people prefer to keep their bills in accordion pleated folders that have pockets in which you can sort bills according to the type of bill or date each month when it needs to be paid. Also, schedule a regular time once or twice a month (or more often, if necessary) during which you sit down and pay bills. That way, you only have to worry about them on those dates and don't have to wonder on the other days what you should have paid already or what is coming due. Defiance.Some people put off paying bills despite their fat bank accounts. They have a mental block against writing the checks and getting them in the mail, even though they have plenty of money to back up those checks. It's a way of gaining some small degree of control over their finances and their lives and a way to express their resentment over having to fork over their hard-earned dollars. It's a way of saying to the phone company, the gas company, or whomever, "I'm going to hold onto my money as long as I can to show that you're not so powerful. I'm not going to let you use my money for one single day longer than I have to." Solution:Get over it! This act of defiance is bound to backfire on you. Paying bills late or right down to the wire means you end up paying more in late fees and, in cases of repeated offen- ses, marring your credit rating. Plus, you pay for it in stress. Budgeting Budgets have about the same reputation as brussels sprouts. We know they're good for us, but we just can't get too excited about them. If you've been putting off preparing or following a budget, your procrastination may be due to misconceptions about what the task entails. First, you might balk at the idea of putting a budget together because it seems like such a complex project, or you don't know how to do it. It doesn't have to be a major chore. If you've organized all your financial data and bills, and if you use books or software to guide you, then a budget should take no more than part of an evening or a weekday afternoon. You'll probably be pleasantly surprised at how much easier it is than you had expected.