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“I am so glad they taught me how to manage my bills in high school!” …said no adult ever.
One of the first things you learn when you get out on your own is that you need a way to take control of your bills. You need to know what bills need to be paid each week, how much they are, and have a method to keep track of all of it. A class on how to do all that would have been much more beneficial than a study hall (as I say this young me is kicking grown up me in the butt)! So if you haven’t found a way to be master of your bills, let me walk you through a simple and easy to execute plan… the Sticky Bill Plan.
The foundation of a solid budget is to have a simple, but strong, bill organizing method. There are so many different ways to organize your bills when they come in – file folders, 3 ring binders, paperless billing, and the “don’t even open the bills” method (tried this… spoiler alert: it doesn’t work). So which one do you choose?
Although I can’t answer that for you, I can tell you I have had the most success using the 3 ring binder method. (Apparently I’m stuck in that Trapper Keeper mentality from my elementary years.) I use binders for my bill planning as well as for our homeschool. (See my post on laid back homeschool organization and grab some free printables for your binders!)
How To Use The Binder Method
Grab a few, cheap, supplies to get started:
- 3 ring binder
- Subject dividers
- Fine point sharpies
- 3 hole punch
First you need to make a list of your monthly bills to include in the binder. You want to use any bill that you get a paper statement for. As an example, here’s what I include: electric, internet, and vehicle loan statements.
Then, grab your bills for each section and give ‘em a smack with the jumbo 3 hole punch and clip ‘em in the binder.
And you have officially organized (most of) your bills!
But what about bills that don’t have monthly printed statements, like streaming tv and contract-free phone service?
Create A Master Bill List
Grab my (free!) printable here and make a master list of all your monthly bills. You’ll include each bill’s due date, amount, and payment method (autopay or not). Smack this with the hole punch and clip it in the front of your binder.
You could stop here and have a solid organization method for your monthly bills. But I like to take it one step further and make a visual bill command center (very similar to my command center for my Sticky Meal Planning Method).
Sticky Bill Method
- First, pick an area for your bill center and dub it your “command center” – sounds fancy, right?! My command center is the left cabinet of my pantry (the right is my Sticky Meal Plan command center).
- Then you want to grab your trusty Post-it Notes and scissors . Count how many bills you have for the month (see your master list) and grab half that many sticky notes. Cut the stickies in half, so that there is a sticky strip on each half.
- Copy each bill’s information from your master bill list onto the stickies.
- Grab another sticky note.Take a look at the calendar and write down the payday dates for the month on the top of the sticky note. Cut each payday date out.
- Place the payday dates horizontally across the top of your bill command center.
- Sort your bill stickies under the corresponding paydays.
- For the current pay week – bring down the bills to be paid on payday and line them on the bottom of the command center.
- Move the current week’s autopayments and pending checks to a designated “pending area”.
- Toss the stickies once the payment clears your account.
- Simply wash and repeat! It’s really that easy… simply repeat steps 6 to 8 weekly.
The Sticky Bill Plan is very simple and easy to follow through with. It has helped my hubby and I to visualize our finances at a glance, and the sticky notes allow either one of us to make changes to the month’s finances as needed. Need to pay the phone bill on the third payday, but you also have your car payment that week? Simple fix: move the phone bill sticky to the second payday and you’re all set! Find some other ways that we use to make it to payday here!
This method helps us stick with to our budget and pay our bills on time. It also helps Big L and I stay open with our finances. We both constantly know where we stand financially and that eliminates fights about money.
I can honestly say that Big L and I have never argued over money, and I feel very fortunate for that. I strongly believe that it is because of our open communication. Life is too short to argue, especially over something that you can’t take with you in the end. That isn’t to say that we don’t have weeks where the week outruns our bank account, we have learned to just roll with it.
The Sticky Bill Method has been a great success for us and I hope that is a success for your family too!
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