Saturday, January 5, 2013

On Organizing Financial Paper Work

In the spirit of following through, I've been working on organizing my financial life. This is a common goal for every single year of my life since I started working. I have tried out numerous methods for keeping track of our bills and checking account. I always fall short. I always start a new method and follow it for a week, a day, a few hours. It's mainly because I do not schedule a time to work on paper work. There is absolutely no method in the world that will work for paper work if you do not make time for it. Shame on me.

Whatever method that I use usually ends up being part of my home management binder. I've decided that no longer works for me. I think it's because my big binder is a mess; just a crazy, ridiculous, oh-my-gosh mess. To make myself happy, I decided to have a binder dedicated to our bills. I'm using the method that I found here, which, of course, I found via Pinterest.

She recommends using a simple calendar that is really quite awesome. I dig it. I had the supplies sitting around the house so I started this project as soon as I decided it would work for me.

 I printed out six months worth of calendar pages and started to write down the bills that I already knew the due dates for. Now, keeping in mind that all of my other methods have failed me, assume that I am starting from scratch. I wrote down what the bill was and, if I knew the amount due, I put that underneath. I have four expenses a month that are set up for auto pay; Netflix, Hulu, Blockbuster, and Vonage. They each have set amounts and all come out on the same day every month. I wrote those down for a day or two before I expect them to come out with the amount underneath and then I highlighted them. I really want those to stand out when I open the page. I really hate it when they sneak up on me.

 Here are my super cute dividers labeled with my monthly bills. The idea is that once a bill is paid, and I have written the appropriate information on my portion of the bill, I hole punch it and keep it in this binder. Then, I take a red pen and mark it out on my calendar. I've already paid two bills and I am digging this method, big time! Plus, now I don't have receipts and bill stubs sitting around just waiting to be filed until someone, ya know, eats/cuts up/spills/throws them away. It is my life.

Here is a shot of my inside pocket. I am going to have an "In" box of some sort that I will keep at my command station to throw the bills in when I get them. Ideally, I will take a second to write the date it was received on the envelope. I think I might like to get a stamp for this. They still make those, right? Anyhow, when I sit down to take care of paper work they will get written on the calendar and then put in this inside pocket, where I also keep a letter opener for easy use. I haven't decided how to store the red pen and highlighter, yet. I'll probably have a drawer or pen/pencil jar at the center. This is how I have it for now and it makes me happy and I'm using it so everything is a win, so far.

Gone are the days of having a check register in your wallet. At least for us, and it's been this way for years. I think it is because I wasn't using it. Why wasn't I using it? I think that has something to do with people being so hurried in the check out line. Seriously, I can't even get my wallet back in my purse before the person behind me is practically climbing up my back to get to the counter. When will I have time to write it in my register? When I'm in the car with an impatient toddler? When I get to my next errand? When I get home and have to get said toddler settled and stuff brought in? When I forget to do it? Seriously. It's a 'woe is me' situation, but there it is. The other problem that we ran into is that we share a checking account. The problem with this is that if he wants to know our true balance he needs to look in the my the purse of doom. He hates going in the purse of doom and therefore he does not do it, ever. This prompted me to want a check register that was not in my purse and easy for us both to access. Now, I have started this sort of check register quite a few times, and always with the same results: write down everything that day, let it go for a month and a half, repeat. Boo. Not this time.

There wasn't anything new to write down today so I didn't take a pic of the inside. It's just a standard comp book with a pretty, purple hard cover. All it has in it is my beginning balance. I will be good about this. I will use it. I will be successful. I've been thinking and our paydays fall on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It isn't every Tuesday and Thursday but being that those are the days, those are the days that I will set aside for paperwork. I'm thinking that half an hour each day should work, but I suppose that depends on the week and how much needs to be sorted. 

I think that is all for today, folks. I might be back tomorrow. It might be with crafty stuff to share. We shall see. ;-)

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