If you're reading this you probably don't make enough money to have all of your bills deduct from your account automatically and be assured that you can go to the Caribbean. If you are that lucky this all may be helpful to you too. It's nice to know how much money you can blow on your vacation.

Most personal budgets are too tight to allow full-auto to be an option. Either your income is unpredictable or there are payments that vary too widely. Your power bill bump when winter starts could cause your Christmas fund to go to overdraft fees. Personally my quarterly water bill is too unpredictable. Also some payees like to move their due dates around. I've been bitten by that monthly credit card payment that's been on the same day for years move up a couple of days without me noticing (or remembering) and, whoops, late fee.

This method is very flexible and can account for all the variables involved to help make sure you can pay your bills on time.

Unpredictable income

This reason alone should cause you to pursue a system as dynamic as this to manage your bills. How can you know what you will pay if you don't know how much you will have? Knowing what payments you need to make at least removes the guesswork. You can do some of your budget on-the-fly and know where you stand.

Due dates and payment amounts change

Thank Google for making it so easy to edit events in Google Calendar. A big reason for doing it this way to begin with was that I could easily drag events around to accommodate my needs. Such as cases where the due date falls on a Sunday but the payment is likely to post on Friday. Or, I needed to put this payment off until next pay day. Also, with just a click, you can update the payment amount.

Notifications are paper or electronic

Until you really get it together you have different methods of payment notification from your payees. At this point still I have not signed up for paperless statements from all of them. I get e-mail from some and snail mail from others. Fortunately it does not matter since in any case your payment schedule can be squared up in moments using this system. Just do this right away as soon as you get notified. It's one of those things that takes less than two minutes so just DO IT NOW. Of course it's easiest if you get an e-mail but your mobile device of choice should make it simple to update your payment event within two minutes after you open the envelope. At the very least, just open your bills while sitting at a computer.

Manual or automatic payment

Some, smaller, constant payments I have set up to deduct automatically either by recurring bill payment from my bank or some payee initiated method. I still choose to make some payments manually because of the flexibility it provides. Sometimes you just need to put a payment off for a couple of days. I like to know that I don't have to adjust anything to make sure it doesn't come out unexpectedly.

Why not use Tasks instead of Events?

That is a good question. Tasks did not exist in Google Calendar when I started doing this.

If you're a big fan of tasks, this method can be easily adapted to use them. The best thing is that you can create a "Bills" list so that it is easy to focus on just that when it's bill time. You see a nice list of your bills in date order that you can look at if you want to do your budget on-the-fly. Also, it is nice to be able to change the payment amount and date from the balloon you get when you click on the task. This saves a click and a page reload when you need to move an event to the next due date. Further you can easily access your tasks from within Gmail so that you can make updates as soon as you get your e-mail notification.

However, there are a couple of drawbacks to using tasks. For one you cannot share your task list with anybody. But the biggest limitation is that you cannot have recurring tasks. Granted, having only one item (event or task) to manage is central to the success of this system. I might have used tasks to begin with had they been around at the time.

For this reason I'm considering changing to tasks. Plus seeing a list of bills when you have the task pane open makes it very tempting. I would either have to make 4 separate events for weekly stuff or wing it like I've been doing. What I don't like is the check box on the item when it's shown in the calendar. It crowds out my payment method code. Maybe it's time to standardize my payment method.

Standards? Who needs them?

I would love to be at full-auto but I simply don't have the income or savings to cover unexpected events. Also I got discouraged when I tried to set up a consistent payment method for every bill. I wanted to do it all the same way but it was not possible at the time. That was years ago and I haven't revisited having that kind of consistency. I could save myself some work and potential confusion but this method just works so well despite the mess.

I do encourage you to strive for consistency in payment type and/or method and notification type. Give it a try. At least that one payee that only accepts Wampum via carrier pigeon will stand out and the misplaced one-off paper bill or e-mail won't have you calling your payees to verify dates and amounts.

Are you still unsure?

I understand. We can get attached to a way of doing things. You are not required to give up on your current system. You can use them both together for a while. This way is so quick and easy that you will likely discover that your current method is taking more time and effort. With a little practice doing this you might stop having overdrafts or late payments. Reading this whole page has probably taken you more time than you will spend using Google Calendar to track your bill payments for a month so just give it a try.