Help for PHSS – Post Holiday Stress Syndrome

And so end the festivities of yet another Christmas/Holiday season.

Happy New Year to all and best wishes for a stress-free and prosperous 2012!

Watch here for tips and ideas about how to minimize debt and maximize your efforts. As the bills start to trickle in from the last month, many of us will be faced with the reality of some over-spending.

Don’t fret – check back here at for some timely and useful advice. You’re not alone. There is help. Been there, done that. More than once.

There is life after debt.

Budgeting Must-Have: Bill Payment Schedule

Oh how I do love back to school. The kids are settled in, the routines are falling back into place. The dog has resumed his lazy day schedule.

This is the time of year I start looking forward. I find that my budget always seems to need some housekeeping right about now, and I’ve been looking through my files and tweaking a bit to make sure things run smoothly into the new year.

The first thing I did, was to review all of my bills. I’ve gone through them, updated them on my ‘Budget Sheet’, including amounts owing, monthly payments, and, in particular, the bills’ due dates. I always try to have a plan for paying my bills before they arrive. If my VISA bill comes in on the fifth, and is due on the 25th, I want to be ready for it. If I haven’t received the bill by the 10th, I go looking for it. And I make sure that my ‘due date’ for paying that bill is always at least 3-4 days ahead of the bill’s due date. This allows for my payment to actually get to the creditor on time. Paying bills late, by even two days, can leave a mark on my credit score. It takes one or two late payments to show up, and another twelve to twenty-four to correct it. And the whole time that late payment is showing on my credit rating, the company is charging me a higher interest rate. Watch for this; it’s important.

So once I’ve double checked that all of my payments are going to get to where they need to be on time, I transfer all of the dates on to a calendar. Some years the calendar is a list. Sometimes a notebook. And some years the calendar is just that: a calendar. One that I picked up from the car mechanic or the bank. I mark on the next few months which bills get paid – “Pay VISA” on the 20th, for example. And I put a big red ‘X’ through them as I go.

I make sure that weekends and holidays are accounted for. If my payment date falls on a Sunday, I make sure that I mark it on the calendar for the Friday before. I might be able to pay the bill online on Sunday, but the bank won’t clear it until Monday. I want to avoid setting deadlines on weekends and holidays.

This planning helps to trigger my memory when the date comes to make a payment. I can see ahead a few days and make a mental note that the next time I have to pay attention to my budget is next Tuesday, when I have to pay the hydro bill.

This is a great tool for my peace of mind. Once my plan is in place, I can go for days without having to focus on my finances. What a relief to be able to live my days without wondering if that cable bill needs to be paid. I know that I still have three days before I have to pay attention to anything. I can check on the cable bill then.

It’s a little tedious at first. And certainly, the more payments I have, the more complicated – and necessary – this little trick is. But it is worth the effort in the simple decrease in stress I feel over the constant vigil over my finances.

Do the prep. Take a break. Let your planning replace your panic. You’ll be glad you did.