For those of us who are struggle to get (and stay) organized, managing month-to-month finances can be extremely stressful. So, I’ve created a simple, low-cost system for organizing my bills and managing my financial obligations. Introducing –
I’ve been using the Bills-In-A-Box system for more than two years – and it works. It’s simple, easy-to-setup, and practical. Over the next few days, I’ll introduce the system, detail how I use it, discuss a few advanced tips, and present a video how-to for exactly how the system works. Consider subscribing to No Credit Needed, via RSS or daily Email, to receive each step as they’re published.
What You Will Need –
1. You will need a “box”. The kind of box will be up to you, but the box will need to be big enough to accommodate 13 standard-sized file folders. Personally, I use an accordion-style file folder, but you can use anything – a plastic tote, a portable filing cabinet, or even a cardboard box – just as long as you can put 13 folders in it. Any of these will work just fine –
2. You will need a standard, letter-sized, month-by-month calendar. You can create your own calendar, print one from the web or your office software, or even use pages from a wall-calendar. The calendar needs to be letter-sized and needs to fit in a standard-sized file folder. Feel free to download the calendar that I use. It’s blank, and you can use your computer software to add details, or print it out and fill it in by hand.
3. You will need some paperclips – or those little binder clips – whichever you prefer. You’ll use these to attach paperwork to the front and back of your calendar.
4. You will need a pencil or pen. I prefer a pencil, so that I can erase my (frequent!) mistakes.
5. You will need your budget. The Bills-In-A-Box system is not designed to replace your budget! On the contrary, you’ll use your budget to help design your system, and then you’ll use the system to help “work” your budget. Personally, I use You Need A Budget Pro Version. It’s a great budgeting tool.
6. You will need some file folders. Standard-size manila folders, with tabs, are perfect. Personally, I like to reuse old folders and simply replace the labels, year after year.
How It Works –
Tomorrow, I’ll outline, in much more detail, how the system works. But, here are the basics –
1. You will label each folder – January through December. The 13th folder will contain a summary of your financial accounts. (More about that later…)
2. Each folder will contain – a calendar, corresponding to the month listed on the outside of the folder – and any bills due during that month.
3. When bills are due, they are attached to the front of the calendar. Once they’ve been paid, they are attached to the back of the calendar.
4. At the end (or beginning) of each week, you will sort through your bills, schedule payments, transfer cash to savings, and verify that bills have been paid. (Don’t get stressed! Once you have the system in place, you’ll be amazed by how simple it really is.)
5. At the end of the month, you can use the system to balance your checkbook, reconcile bank statements, and plan for the next month. (Again, there will be much more about how the system works, in upcoming posts.)
Whew! That’s enough for one day. So, gather your materials, grab that stack of bills, get out your checkbook, and get ready to get organized! And, remember, if you haven’t already done so, consider subscribing to the RSS or Email updates – and be sure to check out tomorrow’s post – step 2!
Click here for Step 1 – The Introduction
Click here for Step 2 – The Setup
Click here for Step 3 – Non-Monthly Bills