Truthfully, I never thought I would be the kind of person who said “Hey, take a look at my BUDGET BINDER!” Never, not in a million years.
However, focusing on debt in a positive way for us has been very freeing and liberating. Instead of feeling shame when I think of our finances, I feel like we are getting somewhere and fighting the battle. Instead of shame, I see hope and a future that would have never happened without these changes.
I suppose that my lack of attention to detail, and the way I allowed that to get us in to a kind of mess is why I created a debt binder. As much as I would love to actually show you all of the individual numbers and what’s going on there, sorry, right now, it’s just a bit too personal. However, I am going to share with you my layout and the way I keep track of everything. It is all stored in a 3 ring binder with loose-leaf paper.
Page 1 is a Table of Contents. All of our bills are listed in the debt snowball order- smallest to largest by debtor. I also have account numbers on this page because multiple bills are due to the same people, but have different account numbers. Psycho billing departments!
The next portion of pages in the notebook are each of the debts listed out individually. I have included the debtor at the top, the account number, the telephone number (if I have it), the mailing address and the total amount of the debt. I then draw a line and leave room to TAKE NOTES and keep a ledger of check numbers, payments made, and a running total. I keep all of these pages paperclipped together- mostly because I am out of divider tabs and don’t see the point in paying money for 2-3 tabs. When the debt is paid off, I fold the page down from the right corner, but leave it all in the notebook.
At the end of the notebook, I write out our monthly budgets. I have income, weekly expenses and monthly expenses written down into 3 columns. I copy all of the bills from month to month to the next page to keep track of it all.
Last, I have an additional large calendar that is in a spiral notebook. One of the insurance companies we sell at the office gives these away as swag at the beginning of the year. Ummm, I LOVE IT and get so excited when we get new ones. I use that calendar to keep track of who gets paid when and what is due out of each check. I also write down how much we’re going to transfer into savings and on what date.
The process is a bit tedious, I won’t fib about that, but given my lack of care in the past, I want to make sure I am as detailed as possible when it comes to record keeping. This also forces me to triple check myself as I am paying bills to make sure I don’t miss anything! Personally, this system works great for me and I feel like I accomplish more with this than I have in the past with computer programs. I am also able to pick it up and carry it with me so if I am not napping in my car at lunch I can budget or make business related phone calls if I have the need.
What is your bill paying system? Do you have any tips or tricks to make it easier?