Let’s talk household finances…

For all of the last multiple decades of my life, I’ve been obsessed with organization (insert “understatement of the year laugh” from my mom). I’ve also been quite adept at financial matters.

Balancing my checkbook in high school home economics was kind of thrilling, and resulted in my very first checking account at age 16 from the local family-owned and operated bank. I’ve always been very aware of my spending and like to say that I’m not a shopaholic if I know exactly where each dollar is going (#justification).

That said, since being married in 2010, finances and saving have become something totally different. I want to save more but I’m so used to not saving that it has stayed that way.

My old system isn’t working for me anymore and I need a revamp!  Mama needs a second car and a trip to Bora Bora!

As a result, I’ve created a 3 phase process to getting on top of our finances. Initially, this was supposed to be Phase 1 … but I ended up making the process even better in 2014 and updated it eeeeven better in 2020.

So here ya go!

Managing Household Finances // Create Your Binder {series, part one}

Managing Household Finances // Enter Financial Data & Pay Bills {series, part two}

Managing Household Finances // Set Your Budget & Savings Goals {series, part three}

But for historic purposes … keep reading if you’re so inclined!

As I created my binder, I listed each step that I took so that you may follow along for your own!

Organization & Time Management | www.kateandtrudy.com - Household Bill Binder

CREATION

(1) Purchase bill binder pieces. I purchased a 2″ 3-ring binder, 2 packages of 8 dividers with tabs, a 3-ring pocket folder, and a 3-ring zipper pocket for my pen, calculator, post-its, etc.

Organization & Time Management | www.kateandtrudy.com - Household Bill Binder
Organization & Time Management | www.kateandtrudy.com - Household Bill Binder

(2) Download and print off the monthly calendar pages (now included in the Productivity Quick Wins freebie here) created lovingly by yours truly (me).

NOTE: There’s a full budget printable set in the Home Finance Binder System here.

Organization & Time Management | www.kateandtrudy.com - Household Bill Binder
Organization & Time Management | www.kateandtrudy.com - Household Bill Binder

(3) Use the Account Summary to list all of your monthly bills, even if paid automatically via credit card, or if a given month might have a $0 balance (for example, a Target credit card).  Include their close date, due date and total balance, if fixed.  If variable (most credit cards and some utilities), then leave it blank for now.

The easiest way to complete this data dump is by reviewing your check register, any digital tracking system (such as YNAB, Quicken or Mint), and any pending bills. Think of your mortgage/housing, auto, insurance (health, renters, homeowners, etc.), student loans, other loans, utilities, all credits cards, and memberships (gym, Massage Envy, etc.).  Annual costs count too!

Organization & Time Management | www.kateandtrudy.com - Household Bill Binder

(4) For the current month, January in my case, record every bill by the due date on the monthly calendar page.  Record actual amounts next to each item once known.  I only put the monthly recurring items on the calendar up front, then when a variable bill comes up (such as a Target purchase) then I’ll add that as needed.

Record dates of paychecks (if on a regular schedule) by highlighting the outline of the date box – I used pink.

Then you’ll need to schedule time on your calendar to pay bills twice per month to align with payment due dates and cash flow of paychecks.  I highlighted the date box yellow (not shown, but I selected the day after each paydate – oops!) to designate when I plan to sit down for bill payments this month and I noted the “thru” date for bills to pay.  I also noted this date on my master calendar so I don’t forget!

Organization & Time Management | www.kateandtrudy.com - Household Bill Binder

If you have an autoDEBIT bill, I recommend putting an asterisk next to the name of that bill to remind yourself to verify your checking account balance BEFORE those bills are autodebited. No bueno if your balance is less than the cost of that bill!

Organization & Time Management | www.kateandtrudy.com - Household Bill Binder

(5) Based on the list created in Step 3, take all of your regular, monthly recurring bills and create a tab for them. You can label with general terms or specific company names (“ComEd” vs. “Electric”). You can also combine items as you wish (“Gas & Electric” or even, “Utilities”). This is where you’ll place the hard copy bill once it’s paid.  Create tabs based on whatever works for you.  This is just a place to store bills processed already and to refer back to them as needed at the end of the year.

Organization & Time Management | www.kateandtrudy.com - Household Bill Binder

(6) Snap all pieces into the binder and move on to Implementation!

IMPLEMENTATION

(1) As soon as you receive a bill, take it directly to your binder and place it in the front pocket folder.  Don’t place it into the specific tab yet – that’s for after you pay the bill.  Add the total amount of your bill to the monthly calendar record.  You should have already written the item on the due date, but you might need to add the total amount.

NOTE: If you have any bills set to “auto pay” to your master credit card (not auto debit to checking – only credit card), do not put the individual totals onto the monthly calendar.  Simply take the bill and file it into the individual folder, as the total for your master credit card bill will reflect this bill.

Organization & Time Management | www.kateandtrudy.com - Household Bill Binder

(2) On your next bill payment date, take your binder out and pay your bills.  You can pay online or via check, whichever is more convenient for you.  Just make sure if paying via check that you have enough time for the check to arrive with the date you’ve selected to pay your bills.

Organization & Time Management | www.kateandtrudy.com - Household Bill Binder

(3) Once the bills are paid and done, file the documentation into the individual tab, close your binder, and repeat Steps 1-3 as bills and bill payment dates come up.

Organization & Time Management | www.kateandtrudy.com - Household Bill Binder

(4) Sit back, relax, and enjoy never having to miss a bill payment date for forgetfulness!

Organization & Time Management | www.kateandtrudy.com - Household Bill Binder

This binder needs some decoration…stay tuned for some bill binder flair!

Organization & Time Management | www.kateandtrudy.com - Household Bill Binder

I did so much research on this topic and ultimately adapted this binder to my requirements.  This method can work for even those who don’t have any credit cards or debt.  We all have to pay utilities and rent/mortgage, right?

I truly hope this makes your life easier as it relates to bills and keeping your household organized.  Nothing is more important to me than NOT thinking about stuff like this on a regular basis, so I’m thrilled that I finally have a way to be confident in our finances. 

Please leave a comment about your new household bill binder or any questions or comments you have about mine!

___________

UPDATE: If you’re ready for a full set of Printables and a mini course setup to get you from A to Z in one afternoon, then head on over to the Home Finance Binder System here.

productivity for working moms

welcome!

I'm Jessica!

I used to glorify "busy." If I wasn't busy, I wasn't doing enough. But when I became a mama, my entire outlook shifted.

 

The only way out involved a complete overhaul of my time, money & communication systems.

 

Today, I'm doing LESS and achieving more.

It's a productivity dream!

I'm still learning (and always will be!), but my purpose here is to help YOU achieve this level of space in your life too.

 

So grab your (hot) coffee & read on >>

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