25% of Americans do not have an emergency savings.Anna Bahney, CNN Money
If you were to lose your job today how would your family survive until you can get another job?
Do you have money set aside in an emergency fund to cover the temporary loss of you or your spouses job?
According to CNN Money, only 29% of Americans have the recommended six months worth of living expenses saved in case of a financial emergency.
25% of Americans do not have any emergency savings and only 50% of Americans have 3 months or less of their living expenses saved.
The truth is that many of us are stuck living paycheck to paycheck.
Finding extra money to set aside can seem next to impossible.
Before we became a single income household we were living paycheck to paycheck and like most Americans, we didn’t have an emergency fund set up.
Before we made the transition to one income we were able to set aside some money in our emergency fund.
However, we have not been immune to various financial emergencies and have had to dip into that account on several occasions.
Even after dealing with these major issues we have been able to save a little each month to put back into our emergency fund by paying our bills weekly.
This payment strategy has allowed us to save money and pay down our debts.
Today I’m going to tell you how to transition to a weekly bill payment system and how you can use it to save and pay down your debt.
3 Steps to Setting Up a Weekly Bill Payment Plan
1.Gather Your Bills
This part can be a bit tedious, but it’s necessary.
You will need to gather all of your monthly bills and write them down.
Sort your bills into two categories: Predictable/Recurrent bills and Irregular Bills.
Predictable bills would be things like:
- cell phone,
- credit card,
- and car payments.
Irregular bills would be:
- utility bills,
- property taxes,
- gas (for the car),
- and grocery.
Any bill that changes from month to month would fall into this category.
Depending on where you live you may be able to turn some of your irregular bills into predictable bills.
For instance, our electric company will allow you to enroll in their budget billing plan.
Once you are enrolled your electric bill is the same each month no matter how much electricity you use.
For example, our monthly electric bill is $160 every month.
Prior to budget billing our bill would range from $120 – $200 a month.
Now that you’ve divided your bills into two separate categories write down the due dates and the amount for each bill.
Use these numbers to calculate how much you spend per month.
(If you can gather bills from the previous months you can use this information to get a better understanding of how much you spend on average per month.)
This is also an excellent time to create a budget if you haven’t already.
Since you already have all of your monthly bills in front of you might as well kill two birds with one stone.
If you’re interested you can read my post on creating a budgeting.
2.Create A Way to Track Your Spending
There are many different methods you can use to calculate your weekly spending.
We record our bills in a Google sheet like the one below.
I like using Google sheets (you can do the same thing with excel) because all I have to do is input the due date and the amount due and it will automatically break down how much we need to pay per week.
However, unlike Excel, you can share a Google sheet with other people and all of your information is automatically saved when you put it in.
I share our Google sheet with my husband, which works out well because sometimes I forget to put in how much we paid onto the sheet.
He can easily go into Google sheets and add the information for me.
It took me about a year to get this Google sheet to look and work the way I wanted it too.
But I’m going to let you download it for free.
All of the formulas have already been entered into the cells. All you have to do is enter the information in the spaces provided.
I’ve also set it up so you can see how much money you’re spending per month, how much you should be spending per week, and how much you actually spent each week.
3.Automate Your Weekly Payments
Once you’ve set up your spreadsheet the next thing you need to do is automate your weekly payments.
Most banks have and automated bill pay feature.
All you have to do is set-up auto pay with your bank for the weekly amount of each bill.
Once you’ve got your auto-pay set up you can sit back and relax.
Your bank will make sure your payments go out each week.
That’s it. You’ve just created your weekly bill payment plan!
Now we’re going to look at how you can use this method to save money and pay down any debts you may have.
How To Save Money & Pay Down Your Debts
Now that you’ve gotten everything set up let discuss how you can use this method to save money and help build your emergency fund.
On average the total amount of money my family spends for a whole month is about $3000.
If you don’t want to keep track of your expenses using the spread sheet you can also use a free budgeting tool like Mint.
It’s a free budgeting tool that will track your expenses, bills, and gives you your credit score each month.
You can read my post on a few different budgeting apps to learn more.
Not including variable bills like food, clothing, etc our monthly expenses are about $2500/month ( $625/week).
We make about $900 each week. After we budget for food, gas, etc were left with about $50/week ($200/ month).
We can use that extra money to build our emergency fund, save for a vacation, or invest it.
Paying Down Debts
As you can see using this method allowed us to have extra money at the end of each week.
We could split that left over money and put half in saving and use the other half to help pay down any debt we may have.
Even if you don’t want to use this system to pay your bills, it’s an excellent way to pay off your debt faster.
Credit cards, students loans, car loans, etc take forever to pay off because we are paying the financed amount plus interest.
One of the best ways to pay off your balance is to pay on your debt weekly.
When you pay on your loan weekly more of your payment goes to the principle, which reduces the amount of money you owe on the loan at a faster rate.
When you pay on your loan monthly most of the payment goes towards the interest.
If you don’t believe me try it and look at your next statement to see how much you paid in interest vs how much you paid on your principle.
Issues To Be Aware Of
As with any new habit there can be a few issues along the way.
Here are a few that we ran into when we made the transition to paying our bills weekly.
Adjusting to The New System
Adjusting to paying your bills weekly can seem like a challenge if you get paid monthly or every two weeks.
We are fortunate that my husband gets paid weekly, so it’s easy for us to keep track of what has been spent.
However, no matter how often you get paid if you’re disciplined paying your bills weekly can still work in your favor.
I would suggest having at least three accounts that you transfer money into one for your bills, general expenses, and savings.
Getting Behind On Bills
Initially, you may get behind on your bills.
When we first started paying our bills this way we ended up being a week late on a few of them.
The nice thing about paying your bills weekly is that you can adjust the amount you pay based on the number of weeks you have to pay them.
For instance, if my power bill is due in 3 weeks. I can change the number of payments and divide by 3 instead of 4.
Now here comes the fun part.
I could decide not to pay anything that 4th week or I can make my regular payment.
If your trying to pay off debt you can use that extra money to go towards it.
This should also solve the due date issue and put you back on a 4-week payment plan.
Forgetting to Pay Your Bills Weekly
Most of us are used to paying our bills monthly.
So changing how frequently you pay your bills can be somewhat of a challenge.
That’s why I strongly encourage you to use your bank’s bill pay feature to automate your weekly payments from your account.
Some people don’t like using the automated system and prefer to take a more hands-on approach to pay their bills.
You can do it manually, but in my experience, it’s better to just have it automatically taken out of your account.
It eliminates the hassle of remembering to sit down and pay your bills each week.
We’ve tried it this way before and it never fails that we miss at least one payment each month because we got busy and just forgot to pay it that week.
All Bills Are Not Created Equal
Now, there are some bills, like your mortgage/rent, that you may not be able to pay weekly.
You will have to call your mortgage company or talk to your landlord.
Some mortgage companies will allow you to make payments every two weeks.
You can still use this process to pay these types of bills, but instead of paying that amount to your landlord each week it would go into a saving account.
Then you could have the money drafted from that account once a month.
If you want to tackle paying down your mortgage I would suggest seeing if they will allow you to pay your mortgage every two weeks.
This will add up to 1 extra mortgage payment each year. It doesn’t seem like much, but it will make a difference.
We have come to the end of this blog post.
In my opinion, paying our bills weekly has been the best financial decision we’ve ever made.
We’ve had some ups and downs adjusting to this new method of paying bills, but it has been worth it.
However, what works for us may not work for you.
It’s all about finding what will work best for you and your family.
Don’t forget to sign-up for access to my Free Resource Library to download the Weekly Bill Pay Spreadsheet!
If you are interested in learning how we transitioned to living on one income you can find that post.
Now it’s your turn.
Have you ever payed your bills weekly? What’s your favorite way to budget? Share it with me in the comments section.
Don’t forget to like and share this post!
Until Next Time,
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