You probably have big recurring bills, like for your home and vehicle, necessary bills like utilities, then there’s another set of miscellaneous ones that deserves a task of their own. This might seem long like a long task, but it’s mainly to get you thinking about bills you probably regularly pay along with some details to go about getting them organized. Here. We. Go.
For some unholy reason, canceling a service plan, whether you’re alive or dead, has become one of the biggest hassles on earth. The best you can do is share the login information for your current plan, explain the contract details, and method of payment. Ideally this information will allow a family member to transfer the account to another name (if it’s a family plan) or terminate service (without being charged fees).
Monthly or annual subscriptions -- basically any service that shows up regularly at your door or digitally through a device -- are easy to track on credit card statements as long as you offer a clear picture of what you have:
- Entertainment or streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Spotify)
- Recurring food delivery for humans and pets (FreshDirect, prepared meals-in-a-box, Chewy.com)
- Shopping (Amazon Prime, Costco)
- Digital storage (Dropbox, iCloud)
- Magazines and newspapers
These aren’t much different than subscriptions but they can be a bigger hassle to cancel, specifically when it involves gym memberships, which are notorious for locking people into contracts and making it very difficult to cancel without having to physically go to the location and incur cancelation fees. The same may apply for golf or tennis clubs, as well as educational or dance classes that require an up-front payment without any refunds. There are also helpful ones too, like AAA, AARP, or social and charitable organizations that shouldn’t be left off your list.
It might seem odd that we’re throwing what could be your biggest financial burden, and a constant source of anxiety in many people’s lives among the miscellaneous “expected bills,” but that’s because the amount doesn’t matter. The fact that it exists is what needs to be confronted. Is it a line of credit, personal loan (including ones from family or friends), or a dreaded student loan? Share the details so they don’t surprise anyone who might need to know about it.
Aside from state and federal income taxes, and a property tax bill, are there any others waiting to ruin your day? It’s best to have an inkling of whether you’re getting a nice refund or begrudgingly writing a check come mid-April, which due to COVID-19 is now set for mid-July 2020.
Gifts & Tips
Gift giving and tipping can be extremely confusing for those who aren’t in charge of it, forcing the person in the dark to give too much, too little, or nothing at all.
Having a big, loving family can get expensive around the holidays, and when birthdays seem to be every other week. Same goes for other big life events like weddings and other joyous events that require gifts or cash. Along these same lines, do you give tips or gifts to vendors and service people around the holidays or when they go above and beyond? It could be a postal carrier, sanitation worker, cleaning staff, security guard/doorman, or a host of other people.
Student loans tend to hog all the attention, but there’s a whole thing that happens during the debts: School. Whether it’s pre-school, private school, college, technical, graduate, or anything else, what and who do you pay for education? This may also involve financial aid, scholarships, tutoring, and special needs programs as well.
Alimony & Child Support
If you’re responsible for paying an ex, what’s the payment schedule and duration? Are there any stipulations if something happens to you? Perhaps it’s factored into a Life Insurance policy, Will, or Trust -- your ex must remain as a beneficiary or receive a portion of your estate until you’re no longer required to pay.
Identify all recurring payments, whether they’re required or indulgences, so your family would know how to manage them. As an added benefit, it could help you get your finances in better shape; if you already started using a financial aggregation service covered in a previous task, these will be even easier to get organized.
[Photo Editorial credit: Ivan Marc / Shutterstock.com]