Do you have trouble keeping your household bills organized?
Are you interested in getting a handle on your paperwork?
Organizing bills should be one of the top organization projects in your home if you’re looking to keep your finances and business affairs in order.
The best part about organizing bills is that once you set a system up, the rest falls into place.
All you have to do is to maintain the system on a regular basis, and you’re good to go.
In this post, I offer a few simple ways to organize your bills so you can pay and file them in an orderly fashion.
Do keep in mind, this is just one of many methods when it comes to organizing bills.
Feel free to modify, change, and adapt this framework so it suits your personal needs and preferences.
Identify bills to be organized.
First things first, if you want to organize bills, you’ve got to have a handle on what you’re organizing. You can get things started by doing some brainstorming to create a comprehensive list of household bill accounts along with their due dates. You can either do this from memory (you might immediately recall you have monthly cell phone, cable, and electricity bills to pay each month, for example) or do some targeted research around the home.
Check your desk and inbox for current bills and statements, review your bank statements and online accounts, checkbooks, and credit card statements for an idea of all of your billing accounts. Once you’ve made a list of all of your household accounts, you can you can then proceed to locate and round-up the most current bills in your home.
Use a monthly calendar to track due dates.
Track your monthly bill due dates so you can plan out your expenses and spending accordingly. You can use a wall or digital calendar to track dates. You may also want to include more details in your calendar, such as when specific bills arrive in the postal mail at your address, payment grace periods, and how long a bill takes to post to your account after payment.
Create proper storage locations for bills.
A convenient way to keep bills contained in your home is to simply have a dedicated storage locations for the life cycle of your bills. What’s a bill life cycle? It’s just the natural progression a bill will take as soon as it arrives in your home. It looks a little something like this: bill arrives, bill is paid, bill is filed, and bill is mailed. As you can see, it’s important to address each of these stages so bills don’t accidentally get lost or misplaced.
Now, dedicated bill storage locations don’t have to be anything fancy. If you process paper bills, you can store them in a series of file folders, baskets, boxes, or containers. If you receive bills or statement alerts via email, you can create folders in your email account and manually move email messages into the folders as needed.
No matter which method you use, you’ll need to set aside the following four separate locations:
To-Be Paid – Bills that have just arrived and that need to be paid.
Paid – Bills that have just been paid and/or are in the process of being paid. The latter is if you have a question, concern, or issue with a bill, and have called or made contact with the company or organization in question. This is also a place to hold bills if you are waiting for deposits to clear at your bank.
To-Be Filed – Bills that have been paid and are ready to be filed in a filing cabinet or other filing system.
Outgoing – A place to store bills before they are mailed in a street mailbox or at the post office.
Organize a bill paying center in your home.
Make paying bills as easy as possible by creating a bill paying area in your home. You can carve out a small area in your home office, a side countertop in the kitchen, or in cabinet drawer in your dining or living room. Having all the items you need to calculate, research, and post a payment makes the bill paying process so much more streamlined.
Plus, having all of these office supplies in once place makes it easier to replace items as you use them. If you run out of stamps or address labels when you’re paying bills, you can easily add it to your shopping or errands list.
Stock your bill paying center with the following office supply basics: calculator, pencils, pens, rubber eraser, stapler, staples, paper clips, envelopes, address labels, postage stamps, sticky tabs, and notepad or scratch paper. You may also want to keep a recycling bin and shredder handy to make disposing of a paper a breeze.
Choose a bill-paying process that works for you.
Let’s face it: it pays to process bills in an orderly fashion. Your mind will be more attuned to the task at hand, plus, when you prioritize bill paying, you’ll get a better grasp of your finances overall. To ensure you pay bills on time, you may want to schedule bill paying sessions into your calendar.
Here’s a few ways to process your bills:
Process bills ASAP. As soon as you receive a bill via postal mail or email message, open it up, review it, get out your checkbook or credit card, and if there’s enough funds in your account, go ahead and pay the bill and reconcile your accounts.
Process bills weekly. Set aside time to pay bills each week and review your financial accounts. Schedule a time when you are not rushed so you can take your time to review materials and reconcile accounts.
Process bills monthly. This is a good choice for paying quarterly, semi-annual payments, or yearly accounts.
Whichever method you use, make sure to give yourself enough time to process your bills and tidy up your bill paying center when you’re finished: place paid bills in the “Paid” folder, “To-Be Filed” folder or “Outgoing” folder. This reduces the chance something will accidentally get lost or go missing after the fact.
File bills accurately.
Once you’ve paid your bills, it’s time to file them. All you have to do is reach for your “To-Be Filed” folder and you can get to work. You can choose to file bills as soon as you pay them, or during a specific time each week or month. It doesn’t really matter when you do this, so long as you do it on a regular basis.
When it comes to filing paper bills or statements, you should create a manila folder for each individual account. If you need some general ideas when it comes to setting up household filing accounts, you can check out my post here.
Place billing statements in reverse chronologic order: the most recent items should appear at the front of the folder (as in December, November, October, etc.) This makes it easy to flip through and check recent items in case of a discrepancy with your payment or accounts.How about you? What do you find to be the most difficult thing about organizing bills? Which of these tips will you put into action? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!