Money is always a headache and bills are evil. Here are some tips I use for staying on track. By writing things down and keeping a log, I am able to stay on top of things without having to think too much. Seeming we are striving for a debt free lifestyle and getting more into homesteading, eliminating future debt and paying late fees etc. is key. I use two main spreadsheets.
- Monthly Budget Sheet: to keep track of bills and when they are due. Our family is paid bi-monthly so our bills are separated into two pay periods. This gives each pay period a designated purpose. Once I receive a bill I then write down the amount due. This does not include past debt. This is just for bills we pay each and every month to run our home. I use a new sheet every month because some bills like our gas and electric vary by a few days. You want this to be as accurate as possible to avoid late fees or that dumb 5% of the total bill late charge. You can create your own in Word by making a template with two columns. Bill list on the left and due dates on the right.
- Bill Tracker: is to keep a list of bills and then have all of the months of the year in columns across the page to check off that they were paid each month. You can create your own in Excel by making a list on the left and each column header being a month.
How I keep organized files: I keep a manila folder to store bills as they come in. When I pay them, I pull the bill and write the date paid as well as how I paid (auto draft/bill pay/debit card, money order), the call reference number, and rep I spoke to to make my payment on the actual bill. I save all bills for one year. When the following years month comes up, I discard the bill from last years month. Giberish? Let me explain.
I get a bill for the month of March for Verizon. I file the bill with all my payment information on it in my file bin. Next March, I pay the same bill then file that away while removing the bill from this year and shredding it. It eliminates a ton of paper clutter and overflowing record keeping.
Where to find the spreadsheets: Find a monthly budget printable separated by how your family is paid. Either by week, bi-weekly, or monthly. (Google “free budget printables”). There are a ton of super cute ones to keep you motivated! Find one or make one depending on your frequency of pay.
How I use my spreadsheets: Every bill should get its own line as well as columns across the page for each month of the year. As they are paid each month, check mark or X out that month to show its been taken care. Any empty spaces will indicate at first glance you didn’t pay that bill. Use both of the above spreadsheets together to create a fail proof budgeting system. This works for our home, but do what works best for you. Getting into the cuteness of it and using creative colorful sheets will help you WANT to use them. Especially if you are a chic like me 🙂 I also have colored Sharpie fine point pens.
How to file your spreadsheets: I save this sheet only and file it in my “Annual Payments” folder for quick reference if there ever is a problem. If I need to show proof of payment or there is a discrepancy, I can pull my bank statement for that month in question and show the charge. Ask my husband, I can argue something I paid 3 years ago!
It’s that easy! I like the good ole paper and pen technique. Plus by writing it down you can actually visualize where your money is going and how it is spent versus swiping your card card and checking your statements. I know what goes out and what comes in. Every penny is allocated. Whatever is leftover before each pay period I pop into savings.
Example: We get paid every other Friday. So if by Thursday before our payday we have $400 in the bank, I will put $395 in savings and start over the following morning with just our new income.