Saturday, January 25, 2014

Handy dandy bill-managing binder

If getting married thrust Keith and I into the "adult" category, buying a house locked us there.
We have a mortgage, people. It makes us feel very old. Very.... responsible?

After not one, but TWO, unnecessarily stressful tax filings a few years back I learned that there is a benefit to having all important papers filed in one location. NOT tucked into a random "safe place" here, there and everywhere. Thus was the beginning of my obsessive paper filing habit. And can I just say I am so glad I learned the importance of proper paper management when I did? It made both the marriage/name changing and the house-buying experiences so much easier.

Fast-forward to the present and we now have a steady inflow of important papers that must be managed. We call them Bills. For some absurd reason I thought that because they were coming and going rapidly I didn't need to have a system for filing them. That tossing them in the drawer was acceptable.
Umm, yeah. The Bill Drawer. That was quickly getting out of control. After only one month - one month - just opening that draw was an exercise in stress management.
Fortunately, I spend [excessive amounts of] time on Pinterest and am aware that there are clever people using clever systems for managing their money flow. I now click on those pins instead of scrolling past. It was through one of those clicks that I learned that a filing bills in a binder is a good way to start.
*duh, Shakti*

 Check out the chicken picture that is stuck in the cover. *Whaaaat?*

Binder it up I did. After embarking on an archaeological dig through the pile of college debris, I found a great big binder AND a few plastic dividers with pockets - which have proven to be super handy.

Currently, the system is that each bill gets it's own color-coded divider. The current bill is slipped in the divider pocket then once it has been paid, the remaining invoice is hole-punched and put on the binder rings. While I'm adding the invoice to the binder, I jot the date it was mailed and the amount sent because I've also learned that it can be very helpful to know when you did something.

So far, all seems well. In fact, last weekend, Keith and I sat down with our chicken binder and conquered the bills in the most orderly and UNstressful way. It probably would have been downright enjoyable if we weren't sending away large clumps of money.

So anyways, that is the current bill management system. I'm still doing quite a bit of reading about how to put together a practical budget - especially since our house was empty for so long that the utility companies couldn't give us a monthly estimate or put us on a budget plan.
I've heard a great deal of good about the Mint app for keeping track of spending so I think I will give that a go.  I'm definitely taking suggestions though. Any recommendations as to how Keith and I should maintain our new found level or responsibility? ;)

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