Let’s be honest, paying bills is one of the least sexy parts of being an adult but it’s a necessary evil. Most of us never really take the time to set up a financial system that works for us to keep track of bills, we just pay them as they come in.
But a willy-nilly system like this leaves us at risk for missing bills and facing late payments, so let’s talk about how to keep track of bills so you stay on top of them and pay on time.
As usual, I like to drop a little note here that I write based on the systems I use. I’m not a financial guru, just a regular ol’ gal trying to make ends meet and an adult like the rest of you. So, while I share what works for me, you’ll probably want to modify it so it can meet your needs.
Boring disclaimer aside, let’s get down to the finer points of this bill tracking lesson:
Create a Bills Calendar
The best thing I ever did for myself financially was to make a digital bill calendar. I have a location independent job so I like to keep things as light as possible, but if you prefer a good ol’ fashioned pen-and-paper system this should still work.
When you’re making a bills calendar, the first thing you’ll want to do is to find out all of the due dates for your bills. Not when they send them to you, but when you HAVE to pay them by. Then plot these dates on your calendar.
I do this using Google Calendar. I have a separate calendar that can be toggled on and off where I keep all of my bill due dates. This way I can easily find out what bills is due when.
All of the bills that I have are due on the same day each month, consistency is key to me so I’ve made a point of seeking out services that supply me with predictable billing dates (and amounts, when possible).
However, it’s entirely probable that you might have a bill or two where the date might change. For the few times that I’ve had that, I make a calendar event at the earliest time I think it’s due and drag the bill to the correct date when it comes in.
While I have ALL of my monthly payments on my bills calendar, there are a few that I don’t have to pay as much attention to because I’ve already set up autopay. This means that instead of having to manually pay a bill, it’s taken off of my credit card or out of my bank account at the same time each month.
Most vendors that I deal with from Netflix to cellular companies have this capability which makes my life way easier. It’s my preferred way to pay if I can, because that way I’m not going to miss bills… so long as the money is where it’s supposed to be.
Schedule Weekly or Monthly Billing Time
As an entrepreneur getting paid is my responsibility—there is no auto-deposit or salary to speak of, so it’s important that I’m on top of my billing. That means setting aside time on a weekly basis to make sure I send invoices, pay bills, and reconcile my accounts.
When you’re managing your personal monthly finances, there won’t be any invoicing involved but scheduling time is still something I recommend. Having a regular time that you not only pay your bills but review your spending can help make you more financially responsible.
Keep All of Your Bills in One Place
I am a strictly paperless gal. If I never see a printed piece of paper in my life, I’ll be pleased (though I do have a special place in my heart for physical books, but alas they’re too heavy to pack!), but that doesn’t mean I don’t keep records of my bills.
If you still receive paper bills, storing them in the same place every time you get them is a good idea. That way, if you have to refer back to them, you know where they can be found.
But if you prefer paperless like yours truly, then keeping a copy of your bill in either an email folder or cloud storage is a great idea. That way you have a record of what you’ve spent. And even in cases where I might receive a paper copy like a receipt, I tend to capture the image and file that away too.
It doesn’t have to be hard to keep track of bills, you just need to be smart about it and find a system that works best for you!