I’d like to invite you to tour my 2015 finance binder. I created something very similar to this last year, and it was one of my most successful and popular organizing projects/ posts. I measure the success of my organizing projects by how long I stick with them, and this one is still going strong!
I get a lot of requests to sell the completed binder. Unfortunately, I can’t offer the complete physical binder, but I do offer the finance printable set in various styles and colors, and I will walk you through exactly how I put mine together.
First I printed out pages 3 (bill tracker) and 8 (due date tracker) in the finance packet. After gathering all my bills, I started filling out the due date tracker:
On the left, days of the month are listed. I looked at each bill and wrote it next to the day it was due, along with the amount (if it isn’t variable), and included notes to the right. The most important thing I noted was if the bill is on autodraft or not. That way I know whether I need to be sure to pay the bill beforehand or just make sure it auto drafted after the due date. I do try to put as many bills on auto draft as possible, because it’s quicker, easier, and less prone to error. (I decided to switch most bills to autodraft a couple years ago after I accidentally wrote our mortgage check for way less than it was supposed to be, and got stuck with a late fee! ) I accidentally glanced at another bill when I was writing the check and somehow that number got stuck in my head. I didn’t realize my mistake until I was looking at our bank records a couple weeks later, and it was already past the due date – oops!
I then used the due date tracker to help me fill out the bill tracker (which is really the main part of this whole system):
On that page, I wrote each bill in the order they are due with the due date. Then I can check off each month when the bill is paid. I can see at a glance what has been paid and what hasn’t, and can easily make sure no bills have been overlooked. It only takes a few seconds to put a check in the box when I pay the bill.
I did also print the annual summary page, but I did not use it faithfully last year. I just want to be able to see at a glance our overview for the year. I don’t actually use this system for budgeting or recording every little expense (although you certainly could add the budget pages to your notebook). I personally prefer to use an online budgeting system. We’ve been using mvelopes.com since 2010 and love it! (Let me know in the comments if you’d like to see a post about that in more detail.)
Next, I got my discbound binder, some dividers, and my discbound punch. I punched everything and put the bill tracker first, followed by the due date tracker, the annual summary, and then six dividers. (Here is my post showing how the discbound system works if you aren’t familiar with it. However, you could totally just use a traditional 3 ring binder instead.)
When I pay a bill, I check it off on the bill tracker, punch it, and place it behind the corresponding tab. I only have six tabs because this is all the physical bills we receive. I don’t print things that I get digitally.
I find this system to be so much better than filing. First, it’s much easier to flip through everything and find what I need instead of pulling out a file folder and digging through it. Second, I only have one small file drawer for our personal files, so they would quickly get way too full if I tried to file everything. I did consider scanning my bills, but it really takes some time. This is so much faster.
In addition to the kit pictured here, I have the finance kit available for half letter size binders (like discbound junior or A5 Filofax), and in purple, or blue.
I hope you enjoyed the tour of my finance binder. How do you organize your bill paying and bills?