Friday, August 3, 2012

Organizing Bills and Bill Payments

Bills.  Ugh.  They are an unfortunate part of life.  Each month like clockwork they show their sneering, ugly faces.  (At least that is how I see it.)  It is important for us as home managers to not only know what bills are coming out on a certain day, but to also know how much is going to be taken out of our accounts.  Yesterday, I introduced my new "tickler" file system.  Last night, I showed Frank how it works so that he can be a part of the organizational evolution in our home.

Once upon a time I had a difficult time figuring out how to organize my bills and maintain a bill paying schedule.  I would often forget if I paid so-and-so bill and would have to look back through my check register to see if I had already wrote the check for that statement.  Alas, things got so much easier once Frank and I started signing up for automatic withdrawals.  My only responsibility was making sure there was enough money in the checking account to cover the expense on the day it was withdrawn.  Easy peasy, right?  Wrong.

It is easy to "forget" that a payment is being made today.  Therefore, it is easy to overdraft your account.  It isn't as easy, however, to swallow that $30 overdraft charge.  It is so frustrating to overdraft your checking account and know that there is plenty of money sitting in a savings account that would have covered that amount!  Argh!  (I tend to keep very little extra money in our checking account.  I try to send any extra money to our savings for emergencies, Christmas, or vacations.)

Another problem with automatic withdrawals is that sometimes you don't receive a statement.  Currently, I have ten of my fifteen monthly bills automatically withdrawn from my checking account.  Only five of those billing companies send me any kind of notification (either through mail or e-mail) of what dollar amount will be deducted from my account.  Only seven of those fifteen bills never fluctuate a dime. 

This "Bill Due Dates" sheet keeps me informed of what money is going out and helps me see at a glance what bills have/have not been paid this month.  Also, for bills that are paid by automatic withdrawal, it helps me see if I have/have not deducted that amount from the checkbook.

I have seen all over the Internet where home managers have a printed monthly calendar that they sit down every month and write down the bills on the respective due dates...every. single.  month.  (Did I mention that they do this every single month?)  I am entirely too lazy busy to waste time doing that every month.  So how do I keep up with what's coming out of my accounts? With this handy-dandy table that I created in Microsoft Word:

So, here's how it Bill Paying Day works:

Disclaimer:  Ideally, all bills are collected in one central location.  In a perfect world, they are organized by due date.  (Yeah, right.)

Disclaimer #2:  Obviously I am not going to put my true Bill Due Dates sheet on the Internet for everyone to see.  I have used a generic form that will you the idea of how my system works.

I grab my Bill Due Dates sheet and write down any automatic payments from the transaction register that have been deducted from the checking account since I last sat down and paid bills.
  1. I "check off" on my Bill Due Dates sheet what I have just deducted from the checkbook.
  2. I then pay online any other bills that are due in the next week or so.
  3. I write the deducted amount in my transaction register and add a check mark in the appropriate column of my Bill Due Dates sheet.

In the pictures above, you will see that I have written numbers next to some of the companies.  This is the dollar amount that we pay every month to them.  This number never changes.  Also, you will see that the far left column is the day of the month that the payment is due.

This system has actually worked well for me for the last 18 months.  I keep this sheet in the folder with the bills that need to be paid, ensuring that it is accessible and easy to find.



    1. I'm glad you like it. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! :)

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  3. This is really nifty and simple, almost face-palm simple! Thanks so much for sharing your ideas!