In addition to the organizing steps I’ve listed in this article, be sure to keep a list of those credit card purchases for Christmas, if you used them… trying not to think about how much you spent will not help your finances in January. Know what that total is and make a plan to get it paid off, quickly.* * *
Being organized is important to successful budgeting, and keeping your bills paid on time. You don’t need expensive budgeting software or planning kits for this, but they can be helpful. Remember that paying your bills on time will keep your credit in good standing, and knowing what your expenses are will help you get out of debt, and/or stay out of debt.Here are some basic tips for keeping your bills organized…
Keep a master list of all your bills and expenses on a green, legal-sized, column ledger; the more detailed you make your list, the more organized you will be. You’ll want to write down such things as:
- Name of each bill and amount of your usual monthly payment.
- Dates of when each bill is due (and past due, if necessary).
- If your budget is tight, decide which paycheck will pay each bill and then list them accordingly. – Keep an updated *current balance owed* for any debts, including your car payment(s).
- List extra expected monthly expenses (that aren’t actually bills – such as groceries, lunch money, gasoline, etc… and possible unexpected items such as car repairs and medical expenses.) – Check off each item when you mail the payment and write down the amount you sent.
- Keep just a few months worth of expenses per ledger sheet (I do mine by the quarter), because you may have expenses that will change during the year and you don’t want your organized list to become a mess with updates.Keeping an organized list like this will help you have an idea of how much money you really have; it’s not just what’s left over after the bills have been mailed.
- Have a specific place for your bills.
- Go through your mail every day! Throw out the junk (tearing credit applications in half)
- Open your bills the day you receive them, not later when they’re due.
- If you are in the process of paying off debts or medical bills, keep a running list of every account on a separate page and have a plan to get them paid off as soon as possible. If you can manage to pay just $10 a month extra each month it will make a big difference. You can use the debt payment calculator from our Budgeting Tools on our main page to assist you with your plan.
How often should you pay your bills? This will depend on several factors. How often you get paid, how flexible your budget is, and how many bills you have. Don’t let your bills control you. Instead, keep your sanity and get organized!