Just when you’re working up a full head of steam and looking to the internet for Christmas decorating ideas and gift ideas, here I come to kill your buzz! While I’m sure that you’d rather have visions of sugar plums dancing in your heads and glittering Christmas trees holding court over a wealth of colourful gifts spread around it, I’m going to bring you back down to earth. We’re going to chat about another idea on how to organize bills! Doesn’t that sound like fun?
I’m so sorry to drag you away from your thoughts of fun and family and presents.
Have I driven away the ‘Night Before Christmas’ images? Oh so sad, sorries all around my dears but I’m afraid there’s no help for that. Bills must be paid and bills must be kept track of! Although I wish I could guarantee for all of you, that life could be nothing but peace and joy and playfulness and…..sorry, mustn’t do it, back down to earth again!
So bills must be paid and then stored away carefully. And I’ll bet how to organize bills has been an issue for almost everybody, including those who hate filing (and just don’t do it!)
How to organize bills looks different from person to person, wouldn’t you say?
In my experience, there are two popular methods of how to organize bills and control that sort of paper work. One involves a box or a bag, the other a filing cabinet. Never being a fan of the box/bag philosophy, I used to fall back on the filing cabinet. The problem was that the filing cabinet always had a box on top of it. Guess what that box was filled with? No? Oh you’re asking me….? Why thank you, I am so glad you asked. It was filled with everything that was supposed to be inside the filing cabinet of course.
Right about here, I’m guessing that you’re nodding your head as you glance over at your ‘filing’. Do you cringe at the idea of wasting any time at all on pulling out the appropriate files, putting that letter or bill in it and then replacing it and moving on to the next and the next and…… I cringed so much that the pile seemed to be always growing, sometimes to the point of almost toppling over.
Please don’t ask me where it is!
And heaven forbid that someone should say to me, “where is that bill we paid….I need to look at it”! Much as I love order, somehow that question meant more time wasted looking for that bill because I couldn’t remember which file I put it in. But lucky for me and lucky for you, I’ve come up with a better way.
Now I have to warn you, if you have a home based business and are looking at how to organize bills for your company, this method probably isn’t going to work for you in that capacity. This is more for the average person, with simple, daily household expenses that need to be kept track of and not lost.
It’s always simpler to understand something like this if you have pictures to look at. So I’ll do it that way alrighty? And for the sake of getting you off to a fast start if you decide to give this a shot, I’ve created a very basic Cash Flow Tracker to use here. You’ll find it as a Printable below.
HOW TO ORGANIZE BILLS REQUIRES MINIMAL EQUIPMENT: THINGS YOU’LL NEED
- Cash Flow Tracker Page (see Free Printable)
- 1 large 3” 3-ring binder (preferably the kind with the little pockets on the inside covers.)
- 1 3-ring hole punch
- enough binder dividers with tabs to sit between each category
- 1 stapler with staples
- a pen
- pack of large envelopes, 9×12
- a pile of bills!
So tell me already! How do you organize bills so that you can find them?
The principle of this super simple method of how to organize bills and keep track of what’s coming and what’s going is, that you’re going to put those bills away, the minute you’ve finished dealing with them. I guess the easiest way to explain this is to just tell you how the system works. So here goes (and stop me if I’m not clear enough will ya?)
We all have ‘bill drawers’, or bags or boxes or places we can’t remember..
When an invoice or statement comes in the mail, I toss them in The Bill Drawer. Then every couple weeks, I pull out the pile and the binder that I’ve set up to track them. Every bill gets opened, then I note the amount owing, under the right column of your Cash Flow Tracker page. Then I either write a check (yes, some of us still do that) or I make an online payment. And I try to remember to make a note on the bill, of the date that I pay it. At that point, punch holes down the side and tuck it into the right category in your binder. Voila! Filed!
Sounds like ‘how to organize bills but lose correspondence’ doesn’t it?
This binder will also take any correspondence that goes with each category. For example, your house insurance bills will be here and the letters that invariably come from insurance companies. Or bills from the plumber or communications from the landlord, including the lease if you’ve just moved in.
This is going to hold the physical, financial evidence of your experience in life. The pockets that I mentioned should be in your binders, will hold the years collection of prescription receipts and charitable donation receipts. Basically, anything that will be of use when it comes time to do our tax remittances.
Punch some holes in an envelope and clip it into your binder. You can see where I did that in the first picture. This envelope is where you can put any small receipts that you get through the year. Maybe throw them in the bill drawer when you walk in the door. Then every couple weeks when you’re catching up on bills, you can put them away properly. “It’s all about the system you know”, says she with a twinkle in her eye!
This method of how to organize bills excels because it’s easy and gives you an idea of how things are looking at year end.
At the end of the year, you can tally each column and you’ll have a pretty close idea of how much and where your expenses have come from. And because it’s tax time, you’ll know how much you’ve made throughout the year. Knowing where you stand, makes it easier to make adjustments if you need to.
The other thing that I do after tax time, is stick any and all documents relating to the year’s taxes into one of those 9×12 envelopes that I listed. Punch some holes down one side, then clip it into the binder along with that tax years receipts and invoices. And now that the tax season done, I can retire last years binder along with the tax documents, to the top closet shelf.
And in the meantime, you’ve been working since January 1st in your new binder.
So that’s what five years of my financial life, is reduced to?
Anyway, what’s been the single biggest blessing for me in this, is simply that it takes out a step. It eliminates the time that I sorted through those hanging files to find the right one to drop that paper into. And I think that most of you know, that one step, repeated a thousand times….means you’ve wasted a whole lot of your life if there’s a simpler way to do it.
The last photo is a picture of the shelf in the laundry room. The thing to remember too, is that you should hang on to all that stuff for at least six years to protect yourself from the Tax Man. So to be safe, we’ve always kept paperwork for seven. You just never know right? I suppose it’d be okay to shred the oldest information and recycle the binder in year eight.
Before I go, I just want to remind you that you can print out a basic Cash Flow Tracker for use in your ‘Cash Flow Tracker’ binder. It’s just below and all you have to do is click on the link below. It’s very basic but maybe that’s all you need right.
So there you have it, probably the simplest filing system that actually works to keep you from just storing piles of loose papers for months at a time. I’d love it if you could share your thoughts and let me know what you think. Maybe you’ve found something that works even better or would be a compliment to this! Take a moment and leave a comment. We’d all love to hear from you. In the meantime, be safe, be kind and enjoy your day wherever you are!
While this has nothing to do with your health or fitness, as always, I will remind you that I’m not a medical doctor. However I’ve spent the last 20 years focusing on and learning to ‘grow’ my own health. And that’s what I’m sharing here. All of it based on my own experiences and also the things that I’ve learned from the real experts! Those are the researchers and doctors who’ve seen the actual patients, worked in the labs and write the medical reports and articles links that are sprinkled throughout these posts.
I’ll mostly be chatting about food and nutrition and being organized. Call me weird, but I think that being organized is the bedrock of a happy life! And as well, I might also share a thought or two on the random things of life that drive us all nuts. Or maybe I’ll offer up something to lighten the load that just living, can lay across our shoulders. I suppose in a nutshell, I hope that together, we can discover ways to live our lives in a state of continuous harmony and well being. (aww, doesn’t that sound sweet?
The goal is to motivate and help you find your best way to live a healthier and happier life. Having said that, I also suggest strongly that you talk over any changes in your health routines, with your doctor. This would include changes to your exercise program or plans and any medications or supplements you’re taking. My intention is not to replace your doctor or other health care providers of course. More of a cheerleader and fellow traveller just sharing what I’ve learned.