Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Way I Do Bills: 2008

Every year I get smarter about keeping up with my bills. I don't get richer, I get smarter. As in, avoiding late fees by paying on time!
A few years back, I decided to start recording my payments in a black-and-white notebook. It is so much nicer than a small check registry, and a lot harder to lose. At the beginning of the year, I use a two-page spread and make 13 columns across--one for the name of the bill, and 12 for the months. This is nothing but a place to check off that I have paid something. A check next to Allstate under January means I paid the January Allstate bill. (I have to do stuff like this...I tend to be very forgetful.)

There is no other information here. But I added one extra feature this year: In the first column, I put the date of the month each bill is due! For instance, I know that Discover is always due on the 25th, so I wrote Disc. 25 in column one. Cable 15 means Cablevision is due on the 15th. This way, I can see at a glance what bills are due. I'm paying mostly by phone or internet, so I don't have to give myself a week for things to arrive in the mail.

As far as info, each time I pay bills I record them on a page, with the date at the top. (There can be more than one date on a page, of course.) I'll record the check number, or if the payment was made via phone or computer. I'm going to try to switch to computer as much as possible this year, since I think they don't charge for that. It can run you up to $15 to pay by phone...but that's a lot better than a $35 late fee! (And...eek!...a hike in your rates!) So far, Discover is the only CC that doesn't charge.

So that is the newest thing I'm doing to try to be frugal this year, simply writing down the date something is due. I'll always know that I have to pay my electricity bill on the 18th!


BittersweetPunkin said...

I used to handle all the bills but DH has been doing it for the past year or so...which is better for me...that way I don't get all stressed out! PLUS think it makes him realize how much we have and where it's GOING!!

Amy said...

you are very organized.. I wish I was! have a great day!

Brenda said...

All I can say to that is bills make me need medication for depression so hubby got that job after 24 years! Im free

Debbie J. said...

You have a great system there. I have an index card in my checkbook with a list of bills and amounts in the order they are due. I can glance at it anytime to see what's next. Right now the first half of the card is done, now for that second half of the month.... more month left than money..... oh well, here we go again.

Just Deb said...

I use a spreadsheet for my monthly budget. For statement closing date reminders I set up a calendar alert on Google Calendar. Then I get an email a few days before the bill is due.

I don't carry checks. I just have a debit card and a bit of cash. Once a week I enter my check register in the check book and into Quicken. I know it sounds like I would lose track but I do not spend anything that I have not accounted for. :-)

If an emergency arises I have a separate emergency fund.


Ornery's Wife said...

When we first got married 28 years ago, we instituted the system my dad had used. He used a legal pad, but I have always preferred spiral bound. I am currently using the notebook I started in 1999, and figure I can get a couple more years use out of it before I have to get a new one.

Each page (front and back) has a month's worth of bills on it. The page is divided in half horizontally, so the top half is for bills that need to be paid at the first of the month, and the bottom half is for the bills that are due at the middle of the month.

I start out at the top of each half with tithe and charity recipients. The name of the bill or whatever goes on the left side, the amount due or paid goes on the right. Then list each regularly occurring bill in its appropriate spot, first or second paycheck of the month. I do several months in advance, except for the amounts, so I can add in when quarterly or annual fees are coming due and they don't surprise me. As a bill arrives in the mail, I record the amount due. Once I pay the bill on-line, I write in the number the bank assigns to it for tracking purposes on the space between the name of the bill and the amount. The date it was actually paid goes to the left (in the margin) of the bill name.

A line might look like this
2/2 Cox Cable 5xv7-xxxx 41.95

This is similar to your new system, except that it is planned in advance. It has been fun to go back and see all the debt we've paid off, or see where we did indeed pay that magazine subscription even though they are still sending us bills. It is also helpful when deciding if we have enough money to buy something that we hadn't planned for, keeps us from paying late fees, and is a permanent record for tracking what it really costs us to live!
PS Thanks for visiting Miller Manor and commenting on my posts. I love visitors who comment!