Finding a bill paying system that works can be one of the things that is on the list of goals to either finally put together, manage or refine. There are so many ways to be organized in this area and I certainly am no expert, but I have been married and run a household long enough to know what works for me and what doesn’t. I am going to show you the best bill paying system that has successfully worked for me and how to set it up to make it work for you.
I am a person that likes paper calendars, planners and tangible items. Things that don’t take much effort to put my hands on and that I can find quickly. Some of you may prefer everything to be digital. I don’t entirely trust the reliability of paperless everything.
If you like to have paper items in hand and receive bills in the mail, then this will work for you by organizing the statements you receive. Using online billpay? No problem. This system works for that, too. If you like to receive paperless statements, this method will work for you by organizing the receipts that you simply print off after you make a payment. (You should be doing this just in case your computer or backup fails for proof of payment if it ever comes up). If you run completely digital and think I am crazy, then this method might not work for you, lol!
I like to use a BINDER METHOD. It is inexpensive and keeps everything all in one place. I can easily put together a binder with all of the necessities to run my bill paying for under $10. Since it is all in one place, I can easily take it with me to work on while the kids are at their activities or if I am waiting in the pick-up line at school. Because of mobile banking, I am able to pay everything online if I want to and can utilize down/wait time to my advantage! Let me show you how easy and effective it is to set up your own Bill Pay Binder.
How to Set up a Bill Pay/Expense Binder:
Gather your supplies. Either use ones you already have and convert or head over to the local office supply store or go to Amazon and grab these few items to start you off.
You will need:
- Three ring binder. Choose one that is appropriate in size for your needs. It may only want to start with a one-inch but you may find that you need to upgrade to a larger size to handle your papers.
- Plastic Dividers. I like the Avery Write and Erase Plastic Dividers because they are reusable and erasable. I can easily change a category for the following year if a bill no longer is relevant to my bills.
- Plastic envelope. This will hold stamps, checkbook, register, sticky notes and envelopes.
- 12-month spreadsheet of bills/months
- 3-hole punch
First, gather all of your bills in one place. Start by looking at the bills and putting them in order of payment due date. Write down any other expenses that need to be paid and organize them by date due including automatic payments that come out of your account. If no due date, or you don’t have to have them paid at any certain time, put them at the end. Things like estimated/budgeted grocery bill. You will add them at the bottom of the spreadsheet just to get a look at expenses that go out each month. At the bottom, I like to run a sum of all of the columns combined for a total of dollars going out each month.
Here is a mock spreadsheet. You can add a due date column if you want/need to do that right before or after the amount due. Or use that column to write the date you will be paying specific bills. Using a three-ring hole punch, add holes and put the spreadsheet in the binder. This will always be the first thing you see when you open the binder.
After you have a spreadsheet, take your dividers and write what you want for the categories. Example, for mortgage you can either write the name of the mortgage company or simply write the word “Mortgage”. I like the name of the company that the bills are coming from. Add those to the binder after the spreadsheet. Punch a hole in your statements and file them accordingly within the dividers. Don’t forget to add a section for miscellaneous items like paid parking tickets or home maintenance, etc. so you know exactly when you paid them and how!
I like to actually work backwards. I like to add each statement that comes in for the month on top of the last one. This way when I open a section I need to reference, I have the last statement that came in at first glance. And ALWAYS write the date the bill was paid and how it was paid either by credit card, online bill pay or a check number. Any customer service rep that I spoke to about the statement or any other important information about it I write directly ON THE STATEMENT. With the dividers being erasable/rewritable, I can write any information related to that company directly on the divider. Things like an address update for the company, etc. Or you can use sticky notes. I like both.
Next glue or tape the plastic envelope to the backside of the front of the binder so when I open it I have all of the things I need to send out payments. In the medium-sized, plastic envelope I keep blank envelopes, stamps, sticky notes, checkbook, register, a few thank you notes and a pen.
I keep the binder in a cabinet in the office. As the bills roll in, I open them, place all of the unnecessary papers/envelopes (because I use bill pay) in the recycle bin, punch holes in the statement/bill and place the bills in a designated area. It really helps to a have a basket or tray next to the binder to place all of the bills. It only takes a few minutes to do this but really helps to stay on top of the never-ending paper pile! On bill pay-day, I simply grab the statements and grab the binder. As I pay them I write the date on the statement and put a check mark on the spreadsheet that the bill has been paid for that month. I then organize them into their categories within the binder.
Need to keep store/restaurant receipts? Add another plastic envelope the binder. Maybe one with holes for a three-ring binder.
It seems like I spend a lot of time waiting in the car for kids at their activities. I can grab the binder and the bills on the go and am able to pay them all while I wait and get a thank you note out, too!
This has been a system that has kept me from missing a bill and know, at a glance, what still needs to be paid. You can easily adapt this system for paperless statements, too. If you like to keep your statements for a year or two, label the year on the spine of the binder and when a new year comes you can simply grab a new binder and supplies and make a new one. If you want to use the same binder, simply put all of the statements in a manilla envelope and label the front with a date
Good luck in all of your organizing endeavors this year! I would love to hear about your number one tip for staying organized regarding your bills or paperwork!! Please share!