The Best Way to Keep Track of Your Bills

Before I was fully committed to this whole “getting out of debt” thing, I was really flying by the seat of my pants when it came to my monthly bills. I hadn’t even written a list of each months payments until a few months ago.

I would set up reminders here and there, but they would mostly end up going ignored. I somehow relied on my memory to get me through, which is quite scary when you consider that my friends call me “Dory”.

I’m honestly not sure how I was able to make most of my payments on time back then. I actually ended up paying double on quite a few things because I would forget that I had paid them and in a haste on their due date I would make another payment.

I would then be a month ahead on payments and get out of the habit of paying that one by the following month. It was a complete mess.

I’m sure that some of you are functioning the same way, under a form of organized chaos. Maybe you enjoy it, maybe you are finding it hard to keep up. I wanted to give you a little run through of exactly how I currently keep track of my monthly payments and debts in case you are one of those people who are looking for a way out of the mess.

 

How I Keep Track of My Bills

Completely opposite to how I “organized” my bills before, I am now a bit “anal” with how I pay my bills each month. I do everything manually and actually prefer it.

I use Evernote to keep track of my bills and their due dates. I do this to make sure I don’t forget any of them, as well as to allow me to visually see how they are broken up that month. Evernote is run on a cloud-based system, so every change I make is saved regardless of what kind of device I am using. This is great for people like me who can’t even remember to put gas in the car until it beeps at me.

I keep my full list of my bills for the entire month in a note titled “Bills”. How predictable. Here is an example of what that list would look like:

7 – Cable bill- $65
7 – Credit Card bill – $50
9 – Gas bill – $45
9 – Netflix – $7.99
11 – Cell Phone – $75
15 – Rent – $500
18 – Student Loan #1 – $267
19 – Car – $192
24 – Water Bill – $55
Each pay – Gas, etc. – $50
Each pay – Yearly Bills – $65
Each pay – Car Insurance – $53

This list resembles my personal list of bills, but is more of a generic example.

 

Organized by Pay Schedule

I separate the full list out into bi-weekly periods that coincide with my pay schedule. I add up the ones that need to be paid during that time frame and calculate how much of my paycheck I will have left over (which goes in parenthesis). That extra amount will go towards the debt I am currently focusing on.

I put the dates I need to account for at the end of a long line to break up with pay weeks. I then have the total of those bills listed, as well as the amount of my paycheck left over in parenthesis. Here is a visual of what I’m talking about:

—————————9/26 to 10/9 – $410.99 ($589.01)
7 – Cable – $65
7 – Credit Card – $50
9 – Gas bill – $45
9 – Netflix – $7.99
11 – Cell Phone – $75
Each pay – Gas, etc. – $50
Each pay – Yearly Bills – $65
Each pay – Car Insurance – $53

I make sure to include money I will need for gas to get to and from work so that I don’t end up without that in my budget.

So that first example looks great, right? I would have $589.01 to put towards my student loan. Well, it seems that way, but I always look ahead to make sure I will have enough to cover the bills for the following bi-weekly period:

—————-10/10 to 10/24 – $1182 (-$182)
15 – Rent – $500
18 – Student Loan #1 – $267
19 – Car – $192
24 – Water Bill – $55
Each pay – Gas, etc. – $50
Each pay – Yearly Bills – $65
Each pay – Car Insurance – $53

I would be glad I did take a peek ahead in this example. It looks like that $182 of that money I had left over during the previous time frame is going to be needed for the next pay period. This means I still have $407 extra to put towards my loans. Not bad at all.

I would then either just let that extra money sit in the checking account until the next paycheck came through, or pay off one (or more) of the bills that would be due during that next time frame during this period. It really depends on which bill is coming up. If it is a student loan payment, or credit card payments I will go ahead and pay it so I can save some money in interest.

 

More on the Notes and Strategy

You may have noticed that I keep all of the bills in bold font. Each time I pay one of my bills, I change that line from bold to regular font. This leaves the unpaid bills looking more noticeable so that I don’t end up forgetting any.

I make most of my payments through Capital One 360’s bill pay system. To stay on top of this, once I schedule a payment I will write “scheduled” next to that amount so I know that it will come out as soon as I get paid.

I typically stay on top of my bills pretty regularly, about every other day or so, just to make sure I’m not forgetting anything (again, they call me Dory for a reason).

There are things that I save up for in each paycheck, such as yearly bills, taxes, car insurance, and even upcoming weddings. This is something I just recently started doing so that I wouldn’t be caught off guard every six months or so when those bills crept up.

I used to end up putting these on a credit card and slowly paying them off. I think this new method is absolutely crucial to make sure you don’t end up back in debt by putting a big expense on a credit card.

 

Why not just pay everything automatically?

Some people may look at my method and thing I’m absolutely nuts. Why not just use automatic payments and have everything taken out on a more regular schedule? There is a reason behind this madness, I promise.

Since I am really hustling to get my debt paid off, I need every extra penny to go towards my student loans. As soon as I have the extra money, I want to make a payment to my loan company. This ends up in me paying less interest AND not procrastinating on making the payments every month, which was how I used to get myself in trouble.

I would tell myself that I was going to put the extra towards my payments once the next paycheck came, but then I never would. Something more important would always pop into the picture and the loan payment became secondary.

By immediately throwing my money at the student loan companies (that would actually be fun, wouldn’t it?!) I keep myself accountable for putting the extra money towards my debt.

I know my faults, and have learned to plan around them so they don’t get in the way of my goals. I find that this is the best way to keep track of my bills.

How do you keep track of your bills?

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Chenell

I am Chenell Tull and so far, I've had a pretty rough time with my student loan debt. Recently, I've figured out a more productive "get out of debt" plan and the goal is to pay off over $60k in just 36 months. If you want to learn more, subscribe to the mailing list and get FREE updates on my successes and failures on this journey out of debt.