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How to pay your bills

Faith & Inspiration

This will not be a tutorial in household finances. You can attend one of those seminars yourself in many a church, and I may do that someday, if I get the money.

No, this is about the actual physical act of paying your bills, the ones stacked up on the desk that keep you from seeing the layers beneath the bills—of unanswered personal letters saved with the best intentions.

The first order of business is to reduce the stack. The height of it can be slashed immediately by nothing more than opening all the mail and making three piles on the desk or the kitchen. One pile will be the outer envelopes, the second will be a collection of the inner envelopes they thoughtfully give you for remitting your payment, and the third will be the invoices themselves. (You may eliminate one pile by immediately throwing the outer envelopes into the trash can by your side.)

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Next, go find a yellow highlighter and return to the invoice pile. If these are all hospital bills (as in my case) it is helpful to highlight the names of the particular hospital department: emergency physicians, neurology department, radiology department, heart group, main hospital. This is for ease in categorization, for people like yours truly who can stare at an invoice for 10 minutes and not be able to locate pertinent information such as date or service, amount due, and persons to pay.

Next, take a sheet of plain multipurpose paper and a common school ruler and draw up columns with the names of all the pertinent agencies on top. Then take out your checkbook, find your roll of stamps and a pen, and commence to write checks in the manner of the wise steward of Luke 16 who also saw he was in a jam and started doing something about it in his adrenaline rush—except that unlike that man (whom Jesus commended nevertheless!) you intend to keep making small and regular payments until you are released from debt:

“Owe no one anything …” (Romans 13:8, ESV).

The famed counselor Jay Adams told a group of us how he had addressed the despair of a woman who protested in tears that she was absolutely unable to do housework. He told her that she was mistaken in her assessment, and then told her exactly how to do it: First, take your basket of un-ironed clothes; second, take the flat iron and plug it into the wall socket; third, place an item of clothing on the ironing board; fourth, iron.

But I do find that a large part of the burden of any unpleasant task is the setting-up part. Once you have taken the initial step toward the goal, and maybe a second and then a third, you find that the task is well on its way to accomplishing. That is to say, all we can ever do is the next thing.

Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.

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