There are two things I can’t stand right now. First, stinky kitchen rags, seriously ew. And second, paper clutter. Oh my heck it drives me INSANE! So to avoid paper at all costs, I organize my bills using a spreadsheet and it’s the best thing that has happened since sliced bread.
If you ever want to get anywhere with your finances, then you need to organize your bills. In general, I am NOT an organized person. I have three junk drawers and don’t even think about opening the toy closet without wearing a hard hat and steel-toed boots.
But, when it comes to bills, I have become meticulously organized.
I HATE paying late fees. And you should too! Why pay more when you can just organize your bills with a spreadsheet. And fancy colors. And pretty fonts. Oooooooohhhh. 🙂
Here’s the scoop.
How to organize bills using a spreadsheet
My spreadsheet of choice is Google Docs. Why? Because it’s FREE and when I finally decided to get serious with our personal finances, we were of course broke so I chose the free option. I do love a good Excel sheet though, so use what you’re comfortable with.
1. Design your monthly bills spreadsheet
This is supposed to be the easy part of bill organizing, but I’ve found that a lot of people aren’t even sure what bills they have. Been there! That’s why we’re doing this. 🙂
Gather all the bills that you pay on a monthly basis, (Credit cards, memberships, rent, Stitch-Fix, Fabletics… anything that you are shelling out money for every month) and throw it on a spreadsheet.
I personally like to group everything that deals with my house at the top, then everything random or that I could live without (if I had to) on the bottom half. Keeps my spreadsheet pretty when I have to slash or add expenses.
Here is a screenshot of mine….
#2 List Bill Amounts + get equal pay
You can totally do this during step one if you already have the amounts. If not, then you’ll need to start making some phone calls.
While you’ve got a representative from each company on the phone, ask if you can get enrolled in equal payments.
It makes the hassle of keeping track each month easier and your finances more stable. Electric, utility and gas companies typically have equal pay options as long as you’ve been at your current residence for 12 months.
Here’s an example of what it should look like.
#3 Divide total by number of paychecks each month
Most people get paid every other week, which is typically two times a month, so you would divide your total by 2. If you don’t fall into the every other week category, just divide your total bills by however many times you get paid each month.
Put that amount in a separate “Bills” account so it doesn’t get spent, and then hook yourself up with automatic payments through your bank so those monkeys get. off. your. back.
Occasionally, (often March and September) you’ll luck out and have three paydays in one month. STILL DIVIDE YOUR MONTHLY BILL TOTAL BY 2!!
By doing this, the third payday becomes a bonus! Stash that baby in savings! Woo!
#4 How to Organize Annual bills
How to organize and keep track of annual bills is easily one of the questions I get asked most. Annual bills are usually big, they come out of nowhere and smack people in the face. Let’s change that for ya. 🙂
1. Gather all of your annual bills. Some examples are car insurance, membership fees, earthquake insurance, license and registration fees, school fees, etc.
2. Divide amount by 12 (months). Even though you have to pay some annual bills in one lump sum, you can still divide them up and pretend you are paying them monthly to lessen the blow.
Ideally, you can just divide annual bills by the 12 months in a year, but if you’re behind, just divide the bill by however many months are left before it’s due and transfer that amount into your “bills” account.
Then the moment after you pay it, reconfigure the amount by dividing it by 12 to ease the burden from month to month.
3. Automate Annual Bills. Once you’ve figured out your monthly transfer amount for each annual bill, just set them up for automatic bill pay so you don’t forget to pay them.
4. Color Code. I like to color-code my spreadsheet to keep things straight without having to put too much information on the spreadsheet. Blue means I have transferred it into bills and need to pay annually, while yellow means I pay it monthly.
#5 Organize your bills next month too
Now that you’ve actually got a spreadsheet, it only gets easier from here. Now all you have to do to organize your bills the following month is copy and paste your list of bills and expenses.
Even if you are on equal payments, double-check to make sure that your expenses haven’t changed. Internet prices often hike up, power and gas companies analyze your actual usage causing prices to fluctuate, etc. Better to be safe than sorry, or what’s the point of organizing your bills?