Just Do It

Bills, taxes, filing... they’re the tasks we put off in favour of the fun stuff, but it’s time to get them sorted. Now. No excuses.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Bills, taxes, filing... they’re the tasks we put off in favour of the fun stuff, but it’s time to get them sorted. Now. No excuses.
Images Corbis/Click Photos
Images Corbis/Click Photos

We have a boss to keep us on track at work, friends to help us organise our social life and perhaps even a personal trainer to make sure we get through a full sesh at the gym, but who’s looking after the other stuff? You know, the bill-paying and the savings plan? Chances are, nobody is.

“They are often tasks that can be pushed aside at the time when life just gets in the way,” says Kathryn Mayne, director of personal assistant service Urban Concierge. “The situation snowballs and, before you know it, the task has multiplied tenfold. By investing the time, you will save yourself money. As I like to put it, that’s more money for shoes!”

To help you get started, we asked the experts for their best life admin tips. And you’ll be pleased to know that they’re MUCH easier than burpees.

Pay it

According to Kathryn, one of the most overlooked tasks is bill payment. “You wouldn’t believe how many people run late on their bill payment, costing them more in late fees,” she says.

To make sure you’re not one of them, Kathryn recommends using technology to do the hard work for you. “Automate as many bills as possible – there’s often a saving when you use a direct debit facility,” she says.

File it

No matter how many bills we automate, much of our life admin still comes with lots of paper. Yes, you could just shred them all a la Jordan Belfort in the final scenes of The Wolf of Wall Street, or you could file them for future reference. “Filing is all about retrieval,” says Kathryn. “Anyone can shove stuff away and be ‘tidy’, but if you can’t retrieve anything, it totally negates the process.”

So how do you get that paper avalanche under control? “Set up a place starting from where the mail lands to where it will be processed and filed,” says Kathryn. For easy retrieval, file your bills according to categories like “utilities” and “credit cards”.

Most companies offer a paperless billing service, and we recommend it – you won’t just be reducing clutter, but saving the environment too.

Save it

That bag you’ve been lusting after isn’t going to buy itself, so you need a savings plan. “The key to making your savings work is adding money to it all the time,” says Alex Parsons, CEO of RateCity. “For most of us, that’s easy to do when you get a lump sum like a bonus, but it’s harder to remember to do it month in, month out. That’s where an automatic savings plan kicks in. Just like a direct debit to your car loan or rent, set up an automatic payment from your transaction account to your savings account, and have the payment coincide with your salary payment,” advises Alex.

Clear it

Credit card debt, that is. “Most credit card companies set the monthly minimum repayment at around 2 percent of the debt,” says Alex. That may not sound like much, but it adds up over time and you’ll be bleeding money for no good reason.

To mitigate this, amp up your payments beyond the minimum amount (which is usually three to five percent of your debt) each month. Simply put, the more you pay off, the less you’ll be charged in interest. Next, change up your card. “Switching to a credit card with a lower interest rate and that has little or no annual fee will speed up your ability to clear the debt even more,” advises Alex. Smug face, guaranteed.

“Filing is all about retrieval. Anyone can shove stuff away and be ‘tidy’.”