The price of disorganization can be high indeed. Last week, I got a phone call from my friend, Jake, wishing me a happy birthday. Then he told me that it was very nearly a birthday letter instead of a birthday phone call. As part of his debt to society, he has to check in with the court periodically and for February… he forgot. It completely slipped his mind. Luckily, he gets a grace period of a week and they called him the day his grace period was about to expire. I’ve never seen someone so happy to get a phone call from the police!
Some tales of woe and disorganization
Maybe not that severe, but I think we all have a similar story of disorganization. In fact, before I go any further, I wanted to share a couple other stories where not keeping track of things led to some sort of extra cost.
- Two years ago I was in an accident that required a trip to the court-house. I had the summons tacked up to the wall above my desk, but knowing that you have to appear on the 13th does little if you aren’t keeping track of what today’s date is. On the 15th, I realized my error and called. I’m glad I did. If I had let it go until after the weekend, there would have been a warrant for my arrest! As it was, I had to pay an extra $50 fine for failing to appear. The traffic ticket itself was only for $100!
- Another traffic related case, my wife’s friend forgot to renew her car registration. For three months. Then one night she had the guy she liked drive her car because they had stayed out too late and she was too tired to drive. That was the night, after 3 months of driving around, that the car was pulled over for the expired registration! As the driver, the guy got the ticket. She paid the fine for him, but it was probably that moment that any hope for them dating ended.
- My mother’s old pastor had a story to explain why he didn’t do automated payments for anything. It seems in college he had run up a $300 debt on a store credit card and set up automatic payments of $30 per month. Two years later, he happened to look at a bank statement and discovered that the credit card was still deducting $30 each month, even though the balance was zero!
Given my prior history of disorganization and forgetting the date, I’ll admit I’m a little worried about the future. While this new landlord is pretty laid back, she has been burned in the past with late rent and now charges $50/day that the rent is late.
My new organization plan
To try to help with this, I have set up a recurring event in Google Calendar for the first of every month to remind me to pay the rent. I gave it an email, SMS, and pop-up alert at different times over the day prior. If I have it set up correctly, I should receive the text message on my phone shortly before I wake up in the morning so that I will see it first thing.
Because $50/day can get expensive pretty quick.
My bills have a similar system. About a week before their due dates, my providers send me a handy reminder email. I see that email and immediately go and pay my bill.
What is your preferred system for staying organized and avoiding late fees (or arrest!)?