Several years ago, I was on the hunt for a system to help organize my bills. It seemed that whenever it was time to pay them, I’d have to fish out bills from my car, office, counters, and various other places. Obviously, this was not good. It was time to put on my big girl pants and get organized.
My first thought was a folder, but this didn’t stay tidy for long. I decided that ultimately the system I landed on must be:
- Quick and painless place to store bills as they come.
- Visually tidy and pleasant to use when it’s time to pay bills.
After some contemplation (and a trip to the store), I decided to go with a binder:
While a binder may seem like an unusual choice, I can tell you that this has worked for me for over 5 years now. In fact, I have this same binder and used it just the other day to pay bills. Let me walk you through how I have mine organized.
I purchased tabs with pockets and created categories. Yours could be different, but mine are: Budget, Utility Bills, Loans, Medical Bills, and Other Bills. Here’s a bit more about each category:
- Budget: Reports, tips, or different ideas about budgeting. Right now, we use YNAB (which I cannot recommend enough!), so this section is currently a bit empty. I may change it up.
- Utility Bills: Electricity, Water, Garbage – anything related to utilities payments.
- Loans: Mortgage, car loans, credit card statements. Anything we are actively working to pay off.
- Medical Bills: Doctors, hospitals, surgical procedures, dentists.
- Other: Bills I’ve put here have included parking tickets (DOH!), license fee renewals, home repairs – basically any bill that needs paying but is not recurring.
No matter what categories you land on, it’s important you buy dividers with tabs, like the ones shown below.
As you receive bills in the mail, you will put them in the folders in front of the tabs.
Then, on payday or whenever it’s time to pay bills, remove them, mark them paid, hole punch them and file them behind the tab. Empty tab folders mean all the bills are paid!
I often like making notes on my bills. For instance, I like to highlight current loan balances. Sometimes it’s fun to see how those balances have gone down after time! I’ll also write notes on bills if I end up calling a customer service rep (e.g., inquire about lowering a bill). It’s up to you how long you choose to file the paid bills for. I like having a couple years’ worth of records – not because it’s required per se, but because I like having that data at my finger tips.
- Pockets – which are good for storing stamps, pens, highlighters, and a calculator. It’s nice to have everything you need to pay your bills all in one place.
- File folders – I have designated spaces in my binder for keeping check stubs and receipts related to my business.
- Large rings – I would suggest you buy at least a 2″ size to ensure you’ve got plenty of room for your bills.
- It zips – good for keeping everything in the binder!
My binder also has this nice sturdy pocket in the back which works well to store my Roadtrip folders, too! (I make these for every family vacation.)
This binder cost me $15 at Fred Meyer, so it wasn’t super cheap, but considering how much use I’ve gotten out of it these past five years, I’d say it was worth every penny. I’d encourage you to buy something that will be suitable for your current needs (and maybe, cute too!).
Looking for more inspiration on paper organization? Check out this post: