Household Finance: Ways To Organize Your Bills And Receipts

What are some efficient ways you can organize your bills and receipts?

If you open up your pocketbook and receipts start to fly out at you like a children's pop-up book, you may need to think of better ways to organize your receipts. If your bill pile is teeter-tottering on the edge of your counter top and you find yourself dreading your confrontation with it at the beginning of each month, then you may simply need to come up with a new and improved way of organizing them.

As for your receipts, you will want to hold onto them and account for them in your checkbook at least once or twice a week. There are few feelings worse in this world than waiting a week or two to balance your checkbook with these receipts only to find that you have gone above and beyond your spending limit for the next two months. By accounting for each and every receipt every few days, you will always know exactly where you stand financially and you will not have to resort to guessing at how much spending money you have at the end of the month. When you are handed a receipt at the grocery store or department store, simply put it in one single place in your wallet or purse. Always make sure your receipts go straight into this one specific place so that you will not have any receipt surprises later on. Some people have receipts in every single nook and cranny in their purse. This is not efficient, so keep them all in one place. Then balance your checkbook with them, as I mentioned earlier, at least once or twice a week. Once you have accounted for them in your checkbook, gather all of the receipts for that one month and store them in a filing cabinet or one of those accordion files for at least one year. It is best to sort the filing cabinet or accordion file by the different months, to make retrieval easier and quicker. If you have a small business or are self-employed, you may want to keep your receipts for longer than a year. Consult your tax adviser to make sure you know how long you should hold onto your receipts.

As for your bills, there are several different methods of organization. First and foremost, it is very efficient and time-saving to get some or most of your bills automatically drafted from your checking or savings account. This way, you do not have to worry about when a certain bill gets paid or when you need to send the bill payment out; it happens automatically. Some bills like your life insurance, for example, should definitely be on an automatic draft. That is a bill that is too important to accidentally forget to pay. If you choose to do these automatic drafts, it is vital that you keep a record that reminds you which bill gets pulled on which date and for how much. For all other bills, you can invest in one of those wooden organizational tools that has slots for each day of the month. When you receive a bill, instead of piling it up on the counter top, simply place it in the appropriate wooden slot for when it needs to be mailed out. For example, if your credit card bill is due on the 26th of the month, you would not want to put it in the 26th slot. You will want to put it on or around the 20th slot, so that you have time to mail it out. You may also want to think about getting an accordion file that is separate by the days of the month. When you get a bill in the mail, simply put it in the appropriate file section of the accordion and check in there daily to see if any bills need to be mailed out. Yet another way to organize your bills is if you have a daily planner. If you do, staple the bill onto the date that it needs to be mailed out. Because your daily planner is something you look at quite often, it will be hard to forget to mail out your electric or gas bill payment.

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