When people ask me about bill organizers, I often question them about what type of organizer they are thinking of. There are several organizers that you can put your bills in but what really matters is what your purpose of using an organizer is.
Let’s examine a few of those reasons.
This one is simple. Sometimes people walk in with the mail and just lay it down anywhere. After a few other people come in, the kids play some video games, and dinner is served, the mail can get lost.
Therefore a box, or some sort of holder, would be the place to put the mail. These can be made of just about anything and will help with that bill that gets lost in the shuffle.
If you are looking for something to just stack the bills in, decorate an old shoebox or buy one of the many little organizers you can find in office supply stores. Easy enough.
Maybe what you need is an organizer to sort the bills out by due date. This will help you make sure that you don’t pay your bill late.
Any type of file that is separated into days can do this for you. You could even make your own with a small box and dividers labeled from 1 to 31 for the days of the month. You can also buy a 3-ring binder and get dividers to make a bill organizer. You can get these from an office supply store. It looks like this.
As you receive your bills you decide on what day you need to pay it and get it in the mail. File the bill on that day.
Every day you check the bill organizer, pay the bills that are in there for that day. Stick a stamp on and into the mail box it goes. There, you are done.
You can buy one of these bill organizers at an office supply store, or they can be found everywhere on the Internet.
If you want to organize your bills in a way that is going to provide you with some financial information, now this is a different story! What you need is a good piece of software or a good Excel spreadsheet. I am going to talk about both below.
There are many different types of software that you can use to keep your finances organized and that will act as a bill organizer. This software can usually perform a variety of functions like banking, paying bills, running reports, calculating loan payoffs, managing taxes, and some light financial planning. There are many brands; the most popular is Quicken. It is probably the most robust so if you have a simpler financial situation you may not need all that fire power. You could try something like You Need A Budget.
This website rates the top 10 personal finance software packages.
You might be able to make your own spreadsheet if you are familiar with Excel or one of the other spreadsheet packages. Write your vendors (the people you owe) down the side of the spreadsheet. Across the top write the category that expense belongs in. For instance, if you have a category called “Household” it might contain expenses such as lawn care, pool maintenance and homeowners’ fees. A car expense category might include gas, oil, car payment, and insurance. It is up to you how you might want to categorize your expenses.
The reason you want to do this is to get a handle on how much you spend for each category. Let’s say you do this and one month household expense is very high. You can then investigate why.
And hopefully you will create a budget for yourself to monitor how much you spend. Once you do this, you can start anticipating your cash flow, retirement savings, vacation spending, etc. This is a big step to starting to budget your money. There are several spreadsheets available to download to help you with your bill organizer. Here is an example of one. Get or create a spreadsheet you can work with.
If you don’t use a computer you can create the exact same thing with some accountant’s 13 column paper from an office supply store. It looks like this.
If you are looking for a finance program to do the heavy lifting of some serious financial planning, you want to look at the potential of using a professional planner. They have financial planning tools that you would not be able to access in the market place.
However, as mentioned before, Quicken does some financial planning. Unfortunately, some of the do-it-yourself programs do not have powerful enough calculators and fail to account for things such as taxes and inflation. But if they can provide the information you need and get you started, go for it.
Financial planning can be complicated. I suggest you use the services of a professional if you have any complexity to your finances. Otherwise, a simple package like those mentioned above will fit the bill.
If you are just looking to understand financial planning with more clarity, take a look at my Personal Finance 101 page.
I hope this has helped you understand bill organizers and will assist you in taking a step forward to being organized and in control.