Listen Up: Microsoft Money's Telling You to Pay Bills

After a bill or deposit is scheduled, Money gives you ten days' warning to pay it. In other words, you get ten days to get out of Dodge, and if you don't heed the warning but stick around and gamble at the saloon, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday ride you out of town on a rail (whatever that means).

Ten days before a bill is due, Money reminds you to pay it in these locations:

  • The Bills Summary window: This window lists upcoming bills and deposits. Bills that are overdue are shown in red.
  • Home Page: If you so choose, you can make the Bills & Deposits list appear on the Home Page. Clicking a bill or deposit takes you to the Bills Summary window.

If ten days isn't enough time, or if you don't want the Money Express icon to crowd your taskbar, follow these steps to tell Money precisely how to handle upcoming bills and deposits:

1. Choose Tools --> Settings, and click the Bills Settings link in the Settings window.

You can also click the Change Bill Settings link in the Bills Summary window. You see the Bills and Deposits tab of the Options dialog box.

2. In the Remind Me text box, enter how many days ahead of their due dates you want to be reminded that bills and deposits are due.

While you're there, notice the Count Only Business Days check box. Select it to exclude weekends and holidays from the countdown.

3. Click the OK button.

Scheduling deposits, transfers, and investment purchases

People who opted for advanced bills (not essential bills) can schedule transfers and investment purchases in the Bills Summary window as well as bill payments. Schedule a transfer if, for example, you always transfer part of your paycheck to a savings account. You can also schedule an investment purchase if you regularly buy shares of a security.

In the case of transfers and investment purchases, the steps for scheduling the transaction are nearly identical to those for scheduling a bill payment: Starting from the Bills Summary window, click the New button, choose an option from the pop-up menu, and answer the questions in the dialog boxes.

Recording a scheduled transaction in a register

Terrible, isn't it, when a bunch of bills raise their ugly heads in the Bills Summary window or the Bills & Deposits list in the Home Page window. How can you remove all those notices and start from a clean slate? Simple: pay up.

Many a Money user has recorded a bill that is due in the Bills Summary window but then forgotten to actually pay the bill. Having gone to the trouble of recording a bill payment, it seems that many people think that the bill is really paid. It's not paid. No, You still have to get out the old checkbook and mail the check.

Follow these steps to pay bills and make other transactions that you scheduled:

1. Click the Bills tab.

You go to the Bills Summary window. You can also get to this window by clicking the Record or Pay Bills link in an Account Register window.

2. Double-click the transaction that needs recording.

You can also select a transaction and then click the Enter into Register button or right-click the transaction and choose Enter into Register. You see the Record dialog box. Looks like a transaction form. Will wonders never cease, it's already filled out. (Well, it's mostly filled out, anyway.)

3. If necessary, fill in the Number box.

You can either enter a check number or click the arrow for a drop-down list of options. Select Print This Transaction to print the check on your printer.

4. If you are paying a bill or recording a transaction whose amount changes from month to month, enter the correct amount in the Amount text box.

5. Click the Record Payment button or press Enter.

To visit the account register where the scheduled transaction was recorded (and see what the new account balance is), right-click the transaction in the Bills Summary window and choose Go to Account from the shortcut menu.

Click the View Historylink in the Bills Summary window if you have second thoughts about whether a bill needs paying. After you click the link, you see a list of the scheduled transactions that you recorded in the last 60 days. The list tells you plain and simple which bills were paid and which may need to be paid again.

Skipping a scheduled transaction

Suppose that you want to skip a scheduled transaction this month, perhaps because you already recorded it in a register. Follow these steps:

1. Click the Bills tab to go to the Bills Summary window.

2. Find the transaction that you want to skip, and click it.

3. Click the Skip This Occurrence button.

The Skip Scheduled Transaction dialog box asks whether you want to skip it this time around, skip all overdue occurrences, or drop the transaction from the list of scheduled transactions.

4. Choose an option, and click the OK button.

Changing a scheduled transaction

If you need to alter a scheduled transaction, select it in the Bills Summary window, click the Edit button, and choose one of these options from the button's pop-up menu:

  • Edit Series: Takes you to an Edit window that looks and operates just like the Create a Recurring Deposit or the Create a Recurring Bill window so that you can change the scheduled transaction.
  • Edit a Single Occurrence: Takes you to a window where you can choose the date of the scheduled transaction that you want to change and then change the transaction.

Canceling a scheduled transaction

You've been a loyal subscriber to the by-mail bodybuilding course, and you're as scrawny as ever, so you decide to quit making the monthly payments that you scheduled in the Bills Summary window. Follow these steps to cancel a scheduled transaction and remove it forever from the window:

1. Click the Bills tab to go to the Bills Summary window.

2. Select the scheduled transaction that you want to abandon, and click the Delete button.

3. Click the Yes button when Money asks whether you really want to delete the transaction.

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