I have been so encouraged and greatly helped by the tips I have read here, I hope this little tip will help someone too!
I used to be easily discouraged about ever getting a handle on our finances. I just couldn't find a method that I could stick to or that actually made sense to me. After trying the usual methods for bill paying and keeping track of our expenditures, here is something that has helped me to not only pay our bills on time, but actually keep track of them.
I made the electronic leap of faith, and scheduled all regular bills to be paid automatically. On the plus side, there were no more late fees, but the challenge was making sure the money was there! So I bought a large, cheap wall calendar and wrote on it when each bill was due to be paid. I look at the calendar often anyway (it's the most useful tool to organization and planning, right?), so each week I know to be sure the money is there for the bills coming up for payment that week.
Sounds so simple, but just getting the paper clutter off my desk, the 'remembering' out of my head, made such a difference in my attitude. Now we are actually getting out of debt and improving our credit rating each month because of this simple start.
I hope this helps someone out there who feels overwhelmed - you can do it! As someone once said to me, "you can't start any sooner than today"
By T Jackson from Tampa, FL
You could always use a online reminder service to send you an email at or on a specific date.
There are many free reminder services online. Simple to use especially if your payments are on set dates each month. A really good way to avoid getting late fees because you missed a payment date.
At the end of the year, you will have 12 legal envelopes the same size as your 12 bank statements. I bundle them with rubber bands. I begin a new check register each January 1, and stop with Dec. 31. I put the check register with the bundled envelopes.
At the end of the year I store them in plastic totes. On the envelope I will write whether there are important receipts for items which could possibly need to be exchanged like a new appliance.
I have done this for over 20 years.
By Jeanne from Elysian Fields, TX
I keep as little paperwork/receipts as I can get away with. I do keep receipts for items that I think there could be a possibility I may need to return. When I pay utilities I keep that bill and shred the previous month. But the envelope idea for a month is a good idea that I will use. I think it will easier than dragging out the file and putting them in there. I don't think I've ever needed a utility bill that I've shredded. I don't even keep manuals for most things; I figure I can always see them online if I need too. Only once have I had to look up a manual online and that was for a sewing machine my daughter gave me. Even at that my computer is still disorganized with papers. I've even gone so far as to disconnect my printer because I have such a habit of printing "stuff" I think I may need later; and seldom ever do.
Ever sit down and wonder where your money goes? Many of us put a lump sum of cash in our pocket and when that money is gone just withdraw more money from our checking account or use the good ole debit card.
Organizing the household bills and making sure they get paid on time shouldn't be a problem. I open all mail immediately upon bringing it into the house. If I cannot do that, at least the bills are pulled out and placed in my bill-paying spot on my desk.
I just purchased a Wonderfile and I have to tell you that I highly recommend them.
I had stuff under the bed, in the office, and in the living room. Now, it's all together. I don't have a lap top, but they fit in there, too. There's even a zipper part for the stuff you don't want to be seen, and two places for pens, calculators, and more. If you are a crafter, they are really cool, too. It would also work for artists for pads, brushes, pencils, and more.
No, I don't work for them, but these little gems are wonderful.
I am not certain that Scotch Gard would work on the fabric, so you might want to just try a little on the inside of one corner. I couldn't get the waterproof kind, as that is just on the website. Just a thought if you want to go outside with it.
Please Note: I ordered two for the price of one at their website, and it was not "advisable to go through them". Let's just say the price was wrong and more. They said nothing would be shipped or taken from my credit card for two days. When I called them they said it was already shipped, and that it would take 7-10 days to credit the card! Ever notice that when someone owes you money, it always takes more time? So, I went to Walgreens and bought one for $14.99 plus tax.
Just thought I would help all of us "organizationally challenged" folks.
Hope this helps!
By Poor But Proud from Lake Zurich, IL
PS: I took a shot of it upside down, so when I switched it out it looks funky. Sorry!
I recently purchased this product, and then purchased another one for a friend who also has organizational problems. The Wonderfile is a large size "workspace" that gives me structure as I try to sort and organize the paperwork of my life! The pockets are nice and large, and hold a lot of papers, folders, etc. The best thing about the Wonderfile, I think, is that you can be in the midst of working, and if you have to stop or become interrupted for some reason, you simply fold, strap the cord around the large "button" closure, and go! When you go back to your work, you don't have to start over, but can pick up where you last left off. Wonderful!
I purchased a Rubbermaid sorter in the office supply section at Wal-mart. When I get my bills in the mail, I instantly open them. On the front of the envelope I put the date that the bill needs paid by and amount to be paid.
I am the one who handles the finances in our home. One day, my husband called me and asked, "Where is the last cable bill and who is it with?"
Years ago when I was in college, I got financial aid, and would pay all the bills for three months ahead, like rent, cable, insurance, etc. Then, my daughter and I would know that "this is our money for a cheap movie or a new jacket for school".
I use baggies for everything. When all my bills are paid I put all the invoices in a baggie and put the month/year on outside. That way if I ever have to go back to find something it's easy.
After years of struggling to keep all of my monthly statements and bills in a filing box, I decided to think about what would work better for me. The problem I have is every time I open the filing box, my bills, statements and receipts are hard to find.
Always use an odd amount for transferring money electronically or paying bills. For example, if transferring monies, use $99.98, or $100.01, or $100.02, but never the same amount during a 6 month period.
I am on Social Security and I pay all my bills on the 3rd of each month. When a bill comes in I open it, write the amount in a notebook, and place the bill in a old refrigerator bin I keep in my desk.
I start my checkbook register at the middle of the register. I have found that I can usually write a month's worth of checks on one page of the register using the front (and back if necessary).
After trying every type of organization system possible for a house with four people, I have found the best solution. I put a big basket on the kitchen island, where everything seems to land. Every single piece of paper goes into it.
A desk by the front door with a desk calendar are necessities for me. I open all mail immediately and log bill due dates on the calendar. Bills are then placed in an "accounts payable" folder with due date and creditor's phone number on the front of the envelope.
When you are budgeting for the year ahead, I have one of the simplest and worry free ways to deal with big annual bills like car insurance, property taxes and any other bill that is going to hit your pocketbook once a year.
Every year, I buy a monthly planner at the dollar store. When my bills arrive, either in the mail or online, I put them in the appropriate month in my planner.