This year I resolved to get our finances in order. And with the Lord’s help I have been successful. I’m still working on spending more wisely, but as far as getting the actual bills paid and keeping track of things I have grown a lot in this area. The system that I have is pretty simple. It involves a binder, a couple plastic page protectors, some index tabs for every month (I’m using numbered 1-12 tabs since that is what I already had on hand), and some editable forms purchased off of Etsy. Oh, and a zipper pencil pouch. I could have designed my own forms, but I decided not to do that when I found some great ones online.
My binder is just a basic 1-inch white binder that you can slide a cover into. I didn’t want a huge one because in the past when I have done that I have allowed it to get too full and then I didn’t want to use it when it became big and felt sloppy. For the front cover I chose some cute Mary Engelbreit artwork that makes me smile.
When you open my binder the first thing in it is my pencil pouch. In this I keep post-its, pens, stamps etc. This keeps what I need right where I need it.
The next page after the pencil pouch is my master list of regular bills. This list includes all of my monthly recurring bills and also the odd recurring bills such as trash which is every 3 months. It lists the bills on the left in the order that they are due and the right has a column for every month where you fill in the date paid and the amount. At the end of the year I will have an excellent picture of how much our regular expenses cost. Budgeting next year will be easier. I purchased this form in an editable kit from CleanMamaPrintables on Etsy in a kit. It’s a great kit. You can also order bundles with just the forms you want I do believe. (I’ve blurred all my info leaving only the top clear so you can get an idea what it looks like).
After that form is a debt tracker form. This form is not filled in currently in my binder. Not that we don’t have any debts (I wish) but that I have not been good in getting that done. Eventually (soon) I will get that filled in and be more organized there. This form is also part of the CleanMama kit that I purchased. Once again blurred.
After the debt tracker are the 1-12 tabbed dividers. Behind each divider is a monthly paycheck budgeting form that I purchased from FreshandOrganized also on Etsy. The actual form that I ordered can be found here. I really like this one as it allows me to budget by paycheck which works better for me. On the months with three paychecks I just add dates in parenthesis next to each bill.
Also behind each divider is a quick form that I designed to help me budget each paycheck’s cash/variable spending. It has three columns and in each column I list my cash envelopes with extra lines for other misc things that pop up. I take the amount left over after paying the bills and then use that as my available amount for this sheet. Since my husbands paycheck’s aren’t always the same amount this helps me see the whole picture. I have my ideal amounts to fund my cash envelopes but sometimes it just doesn’t work out.
After all of the dividers are two plastic page protectors. This is where I place bills after I have written in the amount due on the first sheet in the binder that shows all bills. Before I write them in, I place the bills in the front pocket inside the cover.
The back pocket holds misc things that I need to keep track of temporarily, currently there is a dental financial agreement that I need to file, a ToysRus birthday card for my daughter and my mother-in-laws new phone number that I need to get written into the address book.
The back cover has a Bill & Payment Checklist, also in the kit from CleanMama. This I pull out every time that I pay a bill and check it off. That way I can tell at a glance if something is paid or not. This is wonderful for me because I have been known to forget and then freak out thinking I forgot to pay something.
After I pay the bills I file any receipts immediately. I don’t save them until I have a big pile anymore. This keeps my binder clutter free and enables me to find what I need should I need a receipt again. In the past I would wait until I had a pile to file and then dread the filing. And things would end up getting lost when the pile would inevitably get rifled through or knocked over.
My system is very simple. But our finances are very simple so this works for us. And I haven’t missed payments or had late fees this year so far. Normally around the fall and end of the year I am starting to get behind on payments and around Christmas things are at a disaster level. This year so far we are caught up on everything and I was even able to pay for my son’s new glasses this past paycheck. God has been so good to us in providing extra funds and extra work for my husband exactly when we needed it. He is so good!
Hopefully my simple method can help someone or inspire someone to a solution that will help keep their finances under control. In my next post I will share about my new cash envelope wallet 🙂