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Keeping your bills organised

email bills

Credit: iStockphoto

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Once you start getting your bills via email rather than "snail-mail" style with paper posted out to you, you'll notice a bit of a difference. Instead of having lots of bits of paper hanging around your kitchen or office, you'll have more email than you're used to.

In the current G Magazine edition, John Dee suggests setting up a free email account just for your bills. Places like Hotmail, Yahoo and Google all offer free web-based email services that you can use for this.

Personally, I don't like to have too many email accounts floating around because it makes me worry that I'll miss something important. I have two accounts - one provided by my workplace for work-related items, and one with Google's Gmail for personal stuff.

But then all my bills and must-pay-attention-to-this email gets mixed in with jokes from my Mum and photos from my friends. There's a few ways to get around this though.

The first is to use filters on your incoming mail. What you do is let your mail program know that emails from the people who bill you should be treated differently from other email you get. You list all the important addresses, and then tell the program you want it to put anything from those businesses into a special folder called "bills" (or whatever name makes sense to you). That way you can check whenever anything is in that folder instead of losing it among the other stuff.

(Here's some specific instructions for Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail). Your emailed receipts can go in the folder too.

I discovered a Gmail trick the other day that will make doing this a bit simpler too: it allows you to add bits to your email address. So instead of having to remember to add every new billing place to my filter, I can just give them a slightly different email address instead. When I sign up for a new online billing place, instead of just myname@gmail.com, I tell them my address is myname+bills@gmail.com. Now I can just set up one filter for everything that is sent to that address, and mark them with a red label so they stand out from the crowd.

Have you got any tips and tricks for dealing with important mail or bills? Let us know in the comments!