Need Help Getting Bills Organized

Updated on March 30, 2012
S.B. asks from Leander, TX
25 answers

Hi Mamas!
Hubby wants to get away from automatic bill pay, so we decided that I should be in charge of the bills. I am definitely up for the responsibility, just not sure how to keep it all organized.
I'm wondering what other mamas due to keep their bills organized? What type of organization tips can you give me?

Thanks!

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C.B.

answers from Austin on

I've found my bank's online bill pay works well. When a bill comes in I schedule it to be payed a few days before it is due (the bank sees to it that it arrives ontime). Then I can file it. The website tells me if it will be paid in one day, two days (both electronic) or five days by mail. You give them the date you want it there, and it goes. We keep a spread sheet to keep track as well, but that is my husband's idea.

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R.B.

answers from College Station on

I use online bill pay, but I have a notbook (that I've been keeping for years!) with a list of all the bills and how much is owed each month. I write down the amounts as the bills come in, and then it's easy to sit down at the computer with the notebook to go down the list. I also prefer to pay all my bills through my bank's bill pay system rather than going to all the individual sites, so I don't have to keep up with all the usernames and passwords.

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M.L.

answers from Austin on

I have one of those 31 numbered slot boxes for bills. When they arrive in the mail, the bill goes in the slot for the date its due. This way, I can view what's due when, and pay the bills on time.

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S.W.

answers from Houston on

Even though we have been married almost 38 years, I still have a small 5" X 7" written journal of our monthly bills. DH gets paid once a month and his check is direct deposit. Mine is paid by check on the 1st and 15th. All 3 checks go into our joint account. When I get paid each payday, I keep out gas and grocery money for both of us and whatever else we need until the next payday and the rest goes into our checking account.

In the journal there is a page for each month and year. The top half of the page is titled - Bills automatically deducted from checking- showing
1) "Bank - mortgage amount and due date to come out of account".
I list each one and number them.

The second half of the page is titled "checks written":
1) Water, amount, date paid and check number,
2) phone, amount, date paid and check number etc.
Some things I have to write a check for because they are different amount each month and are not offered as auto deducted from our checking account. I ALWAYS count the number of checks/deducted amounts from the check register to make sure I show the same number in the journal and vice versa. It is easy to make a mistake. I usually know what our total monthly expenses should be and how many items are to be paid, so if I have more left over in the check register, I forgot to list something. I use Quicken to help me balance the checkbook each month in the computer and it is a godsend! You can use it to track your expenses, too.

We each get paid the same amount on each payday, so it is easy to budget and see what is left for savings. In fact I just set up May yesterday, so my journal entries correspond with checks written and ones deducted. I go ahead and deduct from the checking account everything on the 1st and just leave it untouched in the account. That way when the mortgage comes out on the 26th, it is already there from the 1st. When I have to write a check, I just look back and put the number written beside the (over) estimated amount I listed in the check register and show the actual amount. Then I add back in the small difference to my balance. Note- I do NOT spend any of that money deducted at all because it HAS to go to those items. Less worries for me.

This month we pay the annual premium for DH's bike insurance, so it is paid by check and listed in the journal. I have the house insurance due in several months, so I make sure that money is in savings between now and then. When it is due Aug. 1, I can just write a check for it and note in the journal 2008-09 house ins. paid in full.

For our family it is easy to budget, but for others that get paid every two weeks or other, you almost have to have a nice cushion in checking, so that your bills are really paid two weeks in advance to keep your excellent rating. Remember to save something each pay day, even if it is a few dollars squirreled away in a coffee can because things DO happen- usually when we least expect it. My bank was bought out and now not open on Saturdays (grr), so now I have to make sure we have enough funds for each weekend since I don't use an ATM card, but could cash a check at the local grocery store. No more Sat. bank deposits either.

Hope this helps. I have our first journal and how we lived on $512 a month in 1971 is unbelievable. LOL. Much luck!

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P.S.

answers from Houston on

Every time a bill comes in we write the due date on the front of the envelope and also write it on a large desk calendar. That way we can keep bills organized and at a month's glance when they are due. The calendar helps for when unexpected expenses come up, like a birthday party or weekend getaway.

We keep the bills and our checkbook in a small desk divider right on top of the calendar.

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K.A.

answers from Houston on

Hi S.,

I do the same thing, am in charge of the bills. What I do is keep them all in a file folder, in date order of when they are due. We also allocate 1/2 of each paycheck every 2 weeks for bills and half the rent. I opened a second checking account and transfer half the rent into it as soon as he's paid so I know that at least half of it is safe! I then sat down and figured out what bills have to be paid the 1st part of the month and what half are paid the 2nd half. In some cases, you can get the provider to change the due date. If you want you can go one step further and setup a little spreadsheet on your computer to keep track. I put the starting amount of money we have, then list all the bills in the order they are due and have it subtract out that amount. I enter ALL purchases. At the end of the month if there's any money left, I transfer it to that 2nd bank account as a little savings account and don't touch it. We don't use credit cards, pay cash for everything, so it's an easy way to save towards something we want. You can also download free versions of Quicken (VERY easy to use) off the internet at places such as download.com. That's even better to use. Or you can sign up at mint.com to have them keep track of bill payments and notify you when you are getting low on money, etc. That's free too. Good luck!
K.

W.T.

answers from Detroit on

Keeping your self organized is one of the most important aspects of paying your bills, you can miss an important date if you are not organized well. Though I use an automated bill pay http://www.avidxchange.com/page/bill-pay service that checks my bills for any errors, duplicate charges etc before paying them and I can get digital copies of what is paid, so less clutter and would recommend that you use that as well. But if you do want to start manually, here are some tips.

1) Keep the bill with the the latest due date first.
2) Make a default drawer to keep your bills and keep all your bills there.
3) Mark the dates of the dues date on a calender

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N.H.

answers from Houston on

I purchased a book just for bills. It has "monthly bills" or something to that effect on the front cover & has pockets inside, one for each month. When you get the bills in the mail, place the bill in the corresponding pocket, you'll have all the bills together & write the due dates on the outside of that bills' envelope plus on a calendar. That way, you'll see the due date right in front of you if you're like me & don't look in the book everyday. Once I pay a bill, I do it online if possible, then print copy of the 'receipt' or conf. number & staple to the bill or if you can't print, write it on the bill itself. If you pay by check/money order, write that number down on the bill & staple the m.o. stub to the bill or write ck # on there & place a checkmark on the corresponding calendar note. After all monthly bills are paid, I place in a separate notebook for the year & at the end of the yr I put them all away in a manila envelope (the big yellow 'office kind') for a while then shred when I don't think I'll need them anymore. Hope this helps! Good luck.

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M.S.

answers from Killeen on

I use Microsoft Money. It is easy to set up and I find it very user friendly. I input all bills which will be paid and the date which they are to paid. (this works well with those reoccuring bills) Every month I make sure those are showing up then I put in the water bill and any other bill which I have. Once paid (write a check or use my bank online service. I love this b/c it shows what and when it is to be paid. The bank cuts the check- no more stamps and envelopes for me!). About the 15th and end of month I print my bank printout so I can check it against Microsoft money ledger. It works great. I can balance checkbook all at the same time by using MS money. Just love it.

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L.B.

answers from Odessa on

Once upon a time when I had more time, I made a spreadsheet in Excel. Simple. At the top, I put the Month, then a list of monthly bill with room at the bottom for the extras. I made a column for amount, due date, date paid, balance, etc. Each month, I would do a Save As on the document and delete the amounts and start over. It was great to refer to for taxes. After doing taxes this year without it, I'm sure I'll make take to get it in action again.

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S.H.

answers from Houston on

Every day when you sort your mail, have a special place where you place your bills. I have a "Letter File" made of wood that sits on the counter. I place my bills in there, the ones due first at the front. My husband gets paid every two weeks, so I go through the bills on pay day and see which ones are due before the next pay day. I pay those and file the paperwork in our filing cabinet. This method has worked for the past 37 years. We also use online bill pay for a large part of our bills, but you can use the same system by writing checks manually.

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J.T.

answers from College Station on

I have fallen in love with online bill pay. The set up is a little time consuming, but once it is done, I pay my bills in 5 mins as opposed to 30 min to an hour. There is an automatic option, but I have that turned off. THe good thing is, alot of my bills are the dame every month so if something is different, I know right away and can look for a problem. It also helps me budget because everything is on the computer and I can look at it at a glance. I can set a date for each bill to be sent out so I only do it once a month and don't have to worry about it after that!

Good Luck!

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B.R.

answers from Houston on

We keep everything organized on Microsoft Money. You can set up your bills as a monthly schedule so you know exactly when bills are due. Moreover, it is a good way to track your spending.

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I.H.

answers from San Antonio on

Hi S.,

I bought a dry erase calendar board at Wal-mart. I pay all my bills online so as I get my statements I write down the amount due on the date that it's due....that way I know what needs to get paid that week...I try to pay $200 a wk worth of bills and so some weeks it's more than others... so on the weeks that I have less than $200 due I pay any other bill that fall on the week my mortgage & car payments are due...basicly what I try to do is that on the week that the mortgage & car payments are due...I try to have just those payments and nothing else...when you pay online there are some stores that allow you to schedule your payment to be paid on the due date and some require you to pay one day before the due date...so on a notebook I have a list of all my bills with notes which payments can be scheduled, which have to be mailed and which you can pay on that day or the day before...the ones that are same day...for example lets say the CPS bill is due on the 15th, you go online on the 3rd and schedule your payment to be made on the 15th OR you can get online on the 15th and make the payment as long as it's before 3 pm any payments after 3pm post on the 16th and you will have to pay the late fee...another example is Victoria Secret they have only two options you can either pay it the next day or same day but you have to pay $200 fee....so lets say it's due on the 15th I have to pay it on the 14th so that the payment can be posted the next 15th and if you forget to schedule it the day before your best bet is to go to the store and make the payment there before the cut off time...I know this is a little confusing but once you start doing it regularly you will get used to it...as i make the payments or if I schedule all my payment ahead of time I check them off so I can know which ones have been paid for and then I check my bank statements to see which have been paid for and I start erasing them as they clear......if you have any further questions email me at [email protected]____.com.....I hope I helped you a little.

I almost forgot and if you choose to pay them by mail then you have to make sure you send them off ahead of time so they will recieve your payment before the due date so you won't be charged the late fee.

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H.J.

answers from Houston on

S.,

I use the computer program Quicken to help me with all my bills. You can set up the bills to appear on your calendar. You can make budgets, track the different expenses, put categories for your expenses. Pay online, download bank & credit card information. It can even help at tax time because Turbo tax can take the information from Quicken and import it. It also tracks investments, it will tell you when you are over budget in a particular category. Report sheets and spreadsheets can be printed out showing how much is spent and on what. The down side is it does take time to input the initial information and learn how to use Quicken.

Good luck,
H.

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S.O.

answers from San Antonio on

I have a budget list typed into my computer that I can print out and change anytime. It lists all of the bills or budgeted items (like groceries, etc.) on the left side and then columns of different months on the right. I list the name and the amount of each item budgeted. I check off for that month what has been paid. And I always know what is left to be paid and what bill hasn't come in yet, because it hasn't been checked off, etc. You could also put general due dates or whatever fits you to help you remember things. Since it is in my computer, it's easy to change and then just print it out. I then file all bills into a bin, most recent on top. If I need to find something, I just flip through the bills. I used to file them all separately into a file folder - too much work, too much time. I rarely need to find something, and when I do - flipping through is easy enough. Then, shred the bin/basket stuff occasionally keeping only necessary ones.

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P.B.

answers from Houston on

Hi S.,

I made an excel document with all the expenses I have. I print one for every month so I have it handy. On the chart I write the amount due, due date, paid date, and way of payment. I have some automatic withdraws, others are made by check, and/or online. As I pay them I highlight them so I easily know what's pending. It works pretty good!

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M.P.

answers from Houston on

Hi,

I have a spreadsheet that I have made that has all the bills, due dates, passwords, and such that is needed to pay them.

We only have 2,maybe 3 that we pay by paper but the spreadsheet sure is handy to keep up with what's due and when.

Let me know if you would like me to email you a copy.

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J.S.

answers from Austin on

When the bills come in the mail...I open them and put a date of when they need to be paid on the outside. Usually seven days in advance. Then just put the bills in order by date due in front of our computer. My husband checks the stack and pays what needs to be paid online.

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K.Z.

answers from Houston on

Most important keep the bills that need to be paid in one place. I have a 28 month calendar/planner that fits in my purse, $2.99 at walmart. When a bill comes in I check the due date & amount and put it on the calendar. I also have the paydays marked, when kids will need lunch money, upcoming dr appointments, etc. I just flip it open each week or so and check what is coming up (don't have to dig through the bills). You can receive online notices that your bill is ready & when it is due, without having to pay online. It keeps me organized and on time. Best of Luck!!

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D.C.

answers from College Station on

You talk about getting away from automatic bill pay. Some people decide this when scared of identity theft.

Already you have received lots of good ideas. One simple thing I have done is use a toy, that spring thing, a "Slinky". Each bill that arrives (if not by mail, make one on a sheet of paper). I fold the bill so at the top of the bill I can note the due date in a large or bold way. I include the amount as well.

So, I keep the next bill due in front of all the others and rotate along. Keeping all of this on my dresser which I walk by EVERY day. Utility bills are ones I will pay right away, meaning, I don't delay more than a day.

There are other things you can do to help the process along, like have the return (payment) envelope addressed, stamped and ready. If using the postal mail, I try not to wait until the last minute. Usually, I send the bill a week before it is due.

Setting aside some money in the checking account (or mark some off on my check book ledger). In fact, my bank has allowed me to have a second checking account with no additional fees or charges. What I have done is move money from my primary checking account to this second account, using an amount I came up with my budget figures. It is from this second checking account that I pay all of the monthly bills. In fact, having two months worth of funds in this second checking account, that I have a cushion so to speak

Use the method, or combination of methods, which suits you best. Good luck!

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L.K.

answers from Austin on

I have a divider that sits on my desk. I got it at wal-mart. It has three dividers. The first divider I put all the bills in that are due the 1-15th of the month. The second divider is the 16-31st. And the third divider is for things like charity, the Humane Society is always sending me stuff to donate to so that goes in that divider and when I feel like giving to charity I pull one out. I really like my divider method, it also helps keep mail from not piling up.

Lisa

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V.B.

answers from Houston on

I keep a spreadsheet of all of the bills and when they are due. I have them organized by when hubby gets paid. I sit down and figure out what will be due out of each paycheck ahead of time and pay those on payday. Then, any other bills that aren't on the regular schedule (such as doctor bills or anything else unexpected) gets paid then also. Hubby gets paid every 2 weeks, so I pay bills every two weeks. I mark them paid on my spreadsheet by changing the color of the cell when I have done it so that I know what has been paid and what hasn't. I just keep all of the bills in one spot as they come in so that I know what has to be paid when his check goes into the bank.

We also do a budget at the beginning of every month. We did Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and it has helped a ton. We identify where all of the money will be spent at the beginning of the month and then stick to the budget. That helps to track when things are due as well (although I started my spreadsheet before we started doing this and I have kept it just for my own ease of use). Hope this helps! I recommend looking into Dave Ramsey's book or course if you're looking to help manage your finances. We're strong believers in what he has to say. A lot of it is just common sense that we lose sight of when we're in the midst of just living life!

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C.P.

answers from Houston on

I read in the business section a year or so ago, to pay your bill/write the check the day it comes in and mail it/post it, then you never forget to pay a bill. I have been trying to do this. I also write on the bill the check number and date paid. If I have any questions concerning the bill that I call them about, I make a note on the bill what was discussed. This has been very helpful on several occasions, when the billing error was not corrected.
I read through your responses and you have received some very good suggestions.

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B.K.

answers from Austin on

If I had to go back to paying bills by check, I would set up a folder for each month, pay the bill they day I received it, and write the date and number of the check on the bill, File the bill away. I would be very consistent with this method. I would have one place to sit down and open mail and pay bills and have plenty of stamps on hand. I have seen advice to not put bill payments in the mailbox and leave them there overnight so I would take payments out to the mailbox during morning hours.

I know there are other ways but I don't like to have to keep an inventory in my mind, would rather just "git 'er done"

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