Keeping track of your bills from month to month can be such a pain!
Since some bills come in the mail and others are paid electronically, it can be hard to stay organized.
And if you accidentally miss a payment because you didn’t keep track of your bills, you risk paying a big fee and damaging your credit score.
That’s why it’s important to find the best way to keep track of your bills!
Instead of taking the risk of missing your next payment, try these tips and tricks for keeping your bills organized.
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How Can I Track My Monthly Bills?
Tracking your monthly bills is the best way to ensure you stay on top of your payments. But finding a way to track your payments can be difficult if you’re not sure where to start.
There are a few different methods for tracking your monthly bills. The perfect tracking method for you will depend on your preference and the number of bills you have to keep track of.
1) Select a Bill Tracking Method
When it comes to tracking monthly expenses, you could try using a:
- Notebook: If you’re someone who likes to write down their to-do list on paper, keeping a handwritten list of your bills in a classic lined notebook is a simple way to stay on top of your expenses. Simply write down the bills you need to pay so you’ll always know what payments need to be made each month.
- Planner: Another pen and paper option for tracking your bills is a bill planner. This tracking method is great for someone who prefers to have a calendar view of their monthly expenses. Using a planner, you can write down the name of the bill and payment information on the day it’s due.
- Spreadsheet: Keeping track of your monthly bills using a spreadsheet is a great idea if you’re already familiar with budgeting in this method. If you already have a monthly budget spreadsheet, try creating a new sheet to list all your expenses. If you don’t want to start one from scratch, this is my Excel Bill Tracker. Here’s a Google Sheets version of the Bill Tracker if you prefer to use Google Sheets. It’s programmed to automatically list your bills in order of the due date and highlights the same bill so you don’t accidentally pay the same bill twice!
- Budgeting app: For a more hands-off approach, using a budgeting app is a good choice. Once you connect your app to your checking account, you’ll be able to see all your expenses in one handy place. With this information you can see when each bill is due and how it’s paid, making it easy to keep track of upcoming due dates. And some apps even keep track of this information for you, making planning for future payments even easier.
After you’ve decided how you’ll track your bills, you can get started. Follow these simple steps to get a handle on your upcoming bills and get your finances in order.
2) List out all your bills
Before you can start organizing your expenses, you need to know exactly where your money is going and how the bill gets paid.
That means you’ll need to look back at past bank statements or bills to help you get organized. As you write down each bill, make sure to include the:
- Name of the expense: Give your bill a name so you know what it is. You can use the bill issuer’s name or simply label it what it is, like mortgage payment or water bill.
- Due date: Write down the date the bill is due each month. If that date fluctuates, make sure to note what time of month it’s typically due, like the first Monday of the month.
- Method of payment: How do you typically pay this bill? Make a note whether the bill is paid online or if you need to write a check.
- Delivery method: Include information on how your payment is delivered to the issuer, including whether you need to mail the check before the bill is due.
3) Consolidate your payment methods
One of the most difficult aspects of keeping track of your bills is remembering which bills are paid online and which are paid by check.
To help make it easier, decide on your preferred payment method, then change all your bills over to that method.
For example, if you prefer to pay your bills online, visit the website of each of your expense accounts and opt-in for online bill pay, if it’s available.
4) Negotiate new due dates
Once you have your payment methods consolidated, it’s time to start looking into the due dates of your bills.
While it may make things easier on yourself if all your bills are taken out at the same time, if you’re struggling to make ends meet, spacing out your bills throughout the month may be more beneficial.
Think about your monthly finances and come up with a plan that works for you. Then, start contacting your billing companies to see if you can change the due date on your account, allowing you to restructure your payment dates to suit your needs.
5) Set a reminder
After your due dates are decided upon, set reminders a few days before each bill is due.
This will help you remember to make the payment. Or give you a chance to double-check your checking account to ensure there’s enough money available for an auto payment to go through.
6) Track your expenses each month
Once you have your bills more organized, your work isn’t over yet. To make sure you stay organized from month to month, you need to take the time to track your expenses.
Use a budgeting app or spreadsheet to keep a list of your monthly budget to ensure you aren’t overspending and keep track of your regular payments.
If you’ve never tracked your expenses before, follow these simple steps to get started:
- Add your income: Start by recording your income at the top of the spreadsheet. If you get paid multiple times per month, make sure to include a line item for each payment. And if your income varies from week to week, write down an estimate or average for this amount for planning purposes.
- Put in your monthly bills: Use your list of monthly bills to include all the regular expenses you pay every month. Your monthly payments will include fixed bills, like your mortgage or rent payment, and variable expenses, like your utility bills. For the variable payments, simply include an estimate or average amount as the amount.
- Add in other expenses: On top of your bills, it’s also a good idea to track your regular monthly expenses and irregular bill payments since they’re an integral part of your budget. These expenses could include a variety of things depending on what you buy each month, but you’ll typically include categories like food, transportation, and savings into this section of your budget. To get an idea of what you’re spending in each category, look back at your past bank statements and make note of regular payments. Average out those payments to come up with a budget amount for each category, then include that in your monthly expense tracker.
- Subtract expenses from your income: After laying out all your expenses, subtract each line item from your monthly income. The goal is to reach 0 or have a positive amount leftover. If your number is negative, you’ll need to re-evaluate your spending and adjust your monthly expenses until you have a balanced budget.
- Keep an ongoing tally of expenses: Now that you have an estimated budget in place, you’ll need to keep a running tab of how much you spend each day. After you make a purchase or pay a bill, add that figure to your monthly expense tracker to ensure you’re staying on budget each week.
What is the Best App to Keep Track of Bills?
While keeping a bill planner or spreadsheet is a good idea for some, if you’re having trouble staying organized, you might need a different method.
That leads many people to wonder, “Is there an app to organize my bills?”
The good news is that there are several great budgeting apps that help you get your expenses organized and stay on top of your bill payments!
Try one of these handy budgeting apps to help you keep track of your bills:
As an all-in-one money management app, Mint offers a variety of great features to help you stay on top of your finances.
After creating an account, all you have to do is connect your checking account to the app and it does most of the hard work for you. The app will scan your past purchases to find patterns, helping you stay on top of your bills. You can scroll through your past transactions and label them into categories or let the app do it for you.
After that, the app will tell you when you have an upcoming payment due and how much you need to pay that month.
Apple users can take advantage of Bill Watch, which has a variety of great features to help you stay on top of your bills.
The app records your income and expenses to help you stay up to date on your budget. You can manually add your bills and due dates, then set reminders in the app when a bill is due.
In addition to helping you stay up to date on upcoming payments, the app also keeps a record of past bills, allowing you to track your payment history.
PocketGuard makes sure you know exactly how much money you have to spend on your bills.
This budgeting app is perfect for anyone having issues getting their spending under control. PocketGuard connects to your bank account to help you figure out how much spending money you have available after setting aside money for bills and necessities. Using the different charts available in the app, you can see which expenses are eating up too much of your budget.
And you can stay on top of your bills using the bill tracker, which also helps you negotiate better rates on your monthly payments.
What is the Best Way to Organize Your Bills?
When you have bills coming in the mail and in your inbox, it can be difficult to keep track of everything.
So, finding the best way to organize your bills is an important step to staying on top of your monthly payments.
These simple tips can help you keep your bills organized from month to month, and help you avoid costly late fees.
Open your bills right when they come in
Paper clutter is one of the biggest issues most families face when it comes to getting their home organized.
And since you probably get at least a couple bills in the mail each month, it’s essential that you take the time to organize your mail.
The first step to keeping paper clutter under control is to open and sort your mail right when you bring it inside. Throw away all the junk mail, then organize the rest of your important mail.
Keep your bills in one place
Create a designated spot for paper bills so you know exactly where your bills are located every month.
Make sure to keep the spot in a prominent location, like on your refrigerator or in a basket on your kitchen counter. This will make it easier to access your bills when you need them and serve as a reminder to make the payments when they’re due.
Sort according to due date
To make sure your bills are paid on time, take the time to sort your bills by due date as they’re stored.
You can even make things easier on yourself by writing the due date in the corner of the bill in a bright color to make it easy to see. When a new bill comes in, file it into the stack based on its due date so you can easily keep track of when each payment is due.
Keep your inbox clear
Making sure your online bill notifications are organized is another task you need to tackle to ensure you stay on top of your payments. And if your inbox is overflowing, it’s going to be much more difficult to keep your online bills organized.
Make an effort to sort through your email every day, deleting all the junk mail and organizing important messages into relevant folders.
Create a bill folder in your inbox
Make a folder in your email inbox especially for bills.
When a bill comes through email, open it to check that the amount is correct, then transfer it to your bill folder. Once you have your bills sorted into a folder, you can easily access the messages without having to dig through your inbox to find them.
How to Keep Track of Irregular Bills
While most bills come in the mail once per month, there are several different bills that require irregular payments.
Since these bills are often bi-annual or annual payments, they can easily slip through the cracks if you’re not organized.
Irregular bills may not be paid on a monthly basis, but they’re often essential payments that have to be made every year, like:
- Property taxes
- Home insurance
- Healthcare expenses
- Vehicle insurance and registration
- Car maintenance
- Veterinarian bills
- Life insurance
- Estimated tax payments (if you’re self-employed)
But since you’re not making these payments on a regular basis, it’s easy to forget about them.
And if you don’t plan for them, these expenses can easily sneak up on you and force you to scramble to find the money in your budget to pay them. That’s why it’s essential to come up with a system for keeping track of irregular bills.
Follow these steps to create a system for staying organized when it comes to paying bi-annual or annual bills.
Make a list of irregular bills
Start by looking through last year’s bank statements or budget to see which bills you have to pay on an irregular basis.
Write down the name of the bill, the amount you paid last year, the due date, and the method you used to pay the bill. Keep a running tally of all the bills on a piece of paper or in a spreadsheet.
Add up the total expense amount
Add up all the payment amounts to get a total amount you need to set aside annually to cover the cost of all these irregular bills.
Divide the number by 12
To figure out how much money you need to set aside each month to pay these annual bills, divide the total yearly amount paid in irregular bills and divide that number by 12 months.
This figure is what you’ll need to add to your monthly budget to ensure you have enough money set aside to pay your annual bills when they’re due.
Organize the bills by due date
Next, take a minute to sort the bills based on their due date. Put each of the bills in order based on when it’s due throughout the year.
Note the dates on your calendar
Grab a calendar, planner, or open up your calendar app on your phone. Start adding the due dates for each bill into your calendar.
In addition to including the name of the bill on the due date, it’s also a good idea to write down the approximate amount you’ll owe on that day.
Compare bill amounts to budget estimates
The last step to ensuring your irregular bills are paid on time is to double-check your math.
Take a look at your calendar to see when your first annual bill is due. Then, add up how much money you’ll have saved up to that date based on your initial estimate.
Make sure the amount you’ll have saved is enough to cover your first bill of the year. Make adjustments to your budget, if needed, to accommodate extra expenses if your bill is more than the amount you’ll have set aside.
For example, if you determine you need to set aside $50 per month to cover annual expenses, and your car registration needs to be renewed in February at a cost of $110 dollars, you’ll need to adjust your budget slightly to accommodate that extra payment amount.
Bill Tracking Tips
Even if you have all these tools in your toolbox, staying on top of your bills can sometimes be difficult. That’s why it’s a good idea to have some tricks in your back pocket to help you stay organized from month to month.
These bill tracking tips will ensure you get your bills paid on time every month:
Create a bill payment email
With everyone asking for your email these days, it’s easy for your inbox to get cluttered with junk mail. And if you’re not great about organizing your email, messages about upcoming bills can get lost.
To keep this from happening, set up a new email address that is dedicated to your bills. Add the new address to each of your payment accounts, but don’t use it for anything else. That way, you’ll only receive messages about upcoming bills, making it simple to see what you need to pay without all that extra clutter.
Set up automatic payments
With the help of automatic payments, you’ll never miss a due date.
While this is a great method to help you stay on top of your bills, it also means you need to stay on top of your finances.
When your bills are automatically drafted out of your checking account, you run the risk of over-drafting if you don’t keep enough money in your account.
That means auto payments are only a good idea if you’re diligent about making sure your checking account has enough money to cover all your monthly payments.
Use your checking account for automatic payments
If one of your payment companies doesn’t offer automatic payments, set up automatic bill pay through your checking account instead.
Use your bank’s auto pay option to provide them with details about the bill issuer, then the bank will send money to them each month. Depending on how the payee prefers to receive their payments, the bank will either issue an electronic payment or they will send a paper check in the mail.
Schedule a time to pay bills
Set aside a few minutes each day dedicated to paying bills.
Block this time off in your calendar, then take the time to review your bank account, sort through the bills that need to be paid that week, and contact the biller regarding questions or discrepancies, if needed.
Create a file for your records
After your bills are paid, it’s a good idea to keep a copy of the bill for your records. This will help you keep track of your spending from month to month and allow you to compare current payments to past payments to note any changes.
There are a couple of different filing methods you could use to help sort your past bills:
- By month: File all your bills for the month together in one folder or envelope to keep all your monthly records together in one spot.
- By bill: Organize your bills by payee to help keep a record of monthly bills according to the issuer. Create a different file folder for each bill, then sort the bills into those folders after they’re paid.
- Tax documents: In addition to organizing your past bills for your records, you may also need to store certain bills for tax purpose. If you have bills that need to be set aside for taxes, make a copy of the bill and add it to your tax documents folder, then file the original bill according to your filing method of choice.
Related Ideas for Bill Tracking:
- How to Budget for Beginners: A Step by Step Guide to Budgeting
- A Comprehensive List of Budget Categories and Subcategories
- Best Budget Planner Books
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