Life brings so many unanticipated events: a rent increase, a country’s vote to disengage from its Union, a parent’s illness such that we need to travel…
My region is preparing for another postal strike, one that seems reasonably likely to occur. Although not a life or death situation, nor even particularly exciting, this event will wreak havoc on many people’s finances. Regardless of where you live, it provides a great example of how some simple organizational steps can be key in moving out of poverty and into financial stability.
Effect #1: Paper bills won’t arrive.
I get most of my bills by paper, because doing so provides a double-check. That is, I view the bill when it first arrives and if anything looks crazy, I address it even before I’ve entered it into my financial tracking software. Many companies will adjust or refund a bill only if we request this within 30 days.
Further, if our payment is not deducted automatically, we need to be doubly sure we’re still paying on time so that interest doesn’t begin accruing.
If my calendar asks me once a month to “review bills” and/or “pay phone bill”, I am prompted to do so whether the mail arrives or not—looking the statement up online, visiting the company’s local kiosk, or calling in to its customer service in good time.
This one step can make a difference of hundreds of dollars in one month.
Having this activity in the calendar also ensures we have time set aside for it, and allows us to prepare psychologically for a “nonpreferred task” and to ensure rewards immediately following.
Effect #2: Income disappears.
Some of my income arrives into my bank account electronically, but some still arrives by mail. For the period of a strike, not so!
My emergency buffer will easily get me through regardless. If you don’t yet have a sufficient buffer built up, before the strike is the best time to arrange direct deposit of any other income that has this as an option.
If direct deposit is not an option, now is the time to plan for how you will get through the month.
This one step can save you from having to negotiate payment delays, lining up with dozens of other people to secure funds, or facing an eviction notice.
Effect #3: Communications are absent.
Are you waiting for word of your summer child care subsidy? A spot in a day camp? College registration forms? Confirmation of your university grant? Investigate now how else you can get word.
Put a note in your Google calendar, reminding yourself to complete the alternate method well in advance of any deadlines.
Take action for your well-being.
Above, I’m using Canada’s potential mail strike as an example of how our finances may suddenly be affected by an event outside of our control. But that’s just an example; there are countless events that crop up in life.
Key is to move the power from a person or agency outside of us to ourselves. In this case, instead of waiting for someone else to “remind” or “notify” us of critical deadlines, we’re going to remind or notify ourselves.
Entering payment or communication deadlines into our calendar is will do much to turn our finances around.