UPDATE: I’ve had a lot of requests for me to make a completed finance binder, so I now offer a complete, assembled finance binder like this one in my Etsy shop. Click here to view it in my shop.
I’ve just created a new system for my bill paying in 2014, and I’m so excited to share it with you! I think this is going to work really well for me.
I’m ashamed to admit that I wasn’t previously super organized with my bill paying. I always paid my bills as soon as they arrived, and then saved them for a few months before tossing them out (with of a few exceptions of specific bills I thought I should save longer). Some (like our internet bill) I just tossed right away. Some of our bills are auto drafted, some come via e-mail and I pay them online, and some come via snail mail. Since I just pay them when they arrive, I don’t pay a lot of attention and couldn’t really remember which came via e-mail and which were snail mail. We keep a good buffer in our bank account and only live on the income we actually brought in the previous month, so fortunately I never have to worry if there is money in the account to cover the bill.
Once last year I had a clothing credit card bill (you know the ones where you save so much percent by signing up for their credit card?) that got lost in the mail. Since it never arrived at my house, and I wasn’t really organized about making sure I paid each bill each month, I had no idea it was outstanding. By the time the next bill actually did arrive, they had tacked a $20 late fee on to my $29 pair of jeans! Yikes, those were some expensive jeans! So much for the 20% I saved by using their credit card! Needless to say, I knew then that I needed a much better system.
I’m using an Arc (from Staples) full size cover and discbound system. It came with the flower and butterfly design on it. I cut the “2014 Finances” part out of white vinyl and put it on the cover. I did put some bigger rings on than what it came with because I know I’ll need the extra space by the end of the year, and it’s much easier to do before it’s full of pages.
Next, I printed the Due Date Tracker from my 2014 Sweet Life Planner set. I went through last month’s bank statement and wrote each bill down on the day it was due. For bills that are a fixed amount, I wrote the amount in that column. In the notes column, I wrote how I pay bill the bill (auto draft, online, or physical check) and whether I receive a paper bill or not. This sheet alone is helpful just to get an idea of what bills we have each month and to know how they’re paid.
Next, I printed the Bill Tracker, and I think this is the most useful part of the whole system. Using the due date tracker I had just filled out as a guide, I wrote down my bills in order of when they’re due and put the due date beside them. I used the pink ink for bills that are auto drafted (meaning I don’t need to actually do anything to pay them), and grey ink for the ones that I actually need to do something to pay. There is a box for each month so I can check off when I pay them. This way I can see at a glance if there’s a bill I have forgotten or haven’t paid. I already felt so much more organized!
Next, I made some pretty dividers (using my Silhouette machine and a template I created myself). I find that having a beautiful organizing system helps keep me motivated and excited to use it, so I don’t skimp on making it pretty.
Each section is for a different type of bill. When I pay the bill, I simply punch it and put in the appropriate section. This year, we are required to keep all utility and household bills for tax purposes, so I want to be sure I don’t lose any of them. I find this system to be so much better than filing. First, it’s much easier to flip through everything and find what I need instead of pulling out a file folder and digging through it. Second, I only have one small file drawer for our personal files, so they would quickly get way too full if I tried to file everything. I did consider scanning my bills, but it really takes some time. This is so much faster.
I hope you enjoyed the tour of my finance binder. I don’t do any actual budgeting in this binder. I use an online system called mvelopes.com which I really love and have used for 6 years, but that’s another topic for another post. How do you organize your bill paying and bills?