Let me just start out by saying that I’m by no means a financial pro, but I wanted to share a few tips that I use to help myself with my own personal finances. My ideas may not work for you, and perhaps you already have your own way of budgeting but some may find this method helpful. I’ve always been fairly good with money, but it wasn’t until I moved into my first apartment that I really began to get organized and start my bill book. Being on my own for the first time, I was both ecstatic and a tiny bit nervous. There’s a lot more that comes along with having your own place than just picking out decor, it’s work. At times it can feel like a lot of cash is flying out of your pockets just to keep the lights on, literally. I’ve always been the organized type, and I’m definitely a list type of girl (I probably own way too many planners, eek). Something about organization just makes me super happy, so I decided to use that same approach when it comes to my finances. Now, I don’t write down every single item that I purchase – just my bills, along with their frequency and due dates. I’m a very visual person, and having everything written out on a calendar is so helpful to me. Plus, it makes my little organizational heart skip a beat!
When the bills are due, the companies don’t hesitate to withdraw the money from your account. Ultimately, you’re left with what’s left. I always tell myself that I don’t want to work, just to pay bills. Though, sometimes it can feel exactly that way once the bills come out. Who doesn’t love to splurge every now and then? We work hard, and we should be able to enjoy the fruit’s of our labor. But, the bills still gotta’ get paid! That’s where I find my bill book to be super helpful. It helps me visualize exactly when payments are being taken out, when they are due, etc. That way, I can plan my spending accordingly. Especially with maintaining my blog, and being able to purchase products to review. My site is self-hosted, and I purchase all products with my own money so I have to budget that accordingly in order to be productive. As much as I wish I could splurge on every new release, sometimes you just cannot. Having a bill book allows me to know when I have the flexibility to go out and pick up a new purchase! No one likes an overdrawn account, so knowing exactly when something is to be withdrawn can save you a lot of headaches (and overdraft fees). Life happens, so of course there are times when unexpected situations arise. I’ve honestly found it so much easier to handle those times when I know exactly how much I have coming in/out. I also plan out my grocery trips to Sam’s Club on the weeks that are less, ‘bill heavy‘.
For my actual bill book, I like to use a planner that has both a calendar along with pages where you can add in notes within each month. That way if something comes up, or I need to add-in a bill (or expense) I can do so. Especially for the utility bills that vary month-to-month, having a little notes section can be helpful to write in the different amounts. My favorite planners are the ones that have a little notes section off to the side, right by the calendar. I never spend more than $10-$12 on a planner! The sole purpose of the planner is to assist with keeping track of my finances, so I’m not going to spend a huge amount on it. I’ve seen some really nice planners that are ridiculously priced, and I just can’t imagine spending that much on one. I’ve gotten planners from all over, but I’ve honestly found some of my best ones at Target, Michael’s, Dollar General, and Big Lots. They are always just what I need, super cute designs, great quality, and budget friendly. Size wise, I prefer a small/medium sized planner with spiral binding. I like to be able to carry my planner in my purse with me and flip the pages over easily, if need be.
The very first thing that I do is on the calendar section, I go ahead and write in my pay days (when I get my paycheck). Then, I like to take an account of every single bill that I have and group them accordingly (utilities, insurance, streaming services, blog expenses, misc, etc). I find that makes it easier to ensure that every bill is accounted for, plus I like to make a list of all reoccurring bills so that I have a reference guide. Next, I check for all of my bills that are auto-drafted. I either check my bank statements or go on the actual website of the company (log-in to my account), and check the date that the money is to be drafted out. I take those dates, and fill them in on the planners calendar accordingly. Next, I check all bills that I manually have to pay. Same concept as the auto-drafted bills, I check the date that it’s due and write it on the calendar. Once all of those items are on the calendar, I check to see if I have any specific bills within that month. For instance, anything that is not a regular reoccurring bill that would only need to be paid within that specific month (or a certain day/week within the month). For example, my domain renewal fee. If that’s due to be paid yearly in September, then in September I would add that bill only to my September calendar. You can use different colored pens to really jazz up your bill book, or stick to one color scheme – the possibilities are endless. Once a bill is paid, I like to put a green check mark beside it. So that from a glance, I can quickly scan over the calendar and see what has already been paid. I also write in birthday’s of those I know I’m going to be getting presents for so that within the month, I can figure out the best time to purchase the present. Once you’re finished writing in all the dates, you have an outlined view of where (and when) all of your money is going in/out for that month. I love looking in my bill book, and visually being able to see when the best times to spend are. I find that keeping my finances organized, actually allows me the flexibility to spend how I want.
Generally, I tend to create my bill book within the last weekend of the prior Month or within the first week of the intended month. So July’s Bill Book was created the last week of June. Sometimes, especially with the utility bills the amount isn’t posted until a couple of days into the actual month. I’ll go ahead and make a place for the bill, and just jot in the amount due once it’s available. As I stated before – I’m not financial pro this is just a method that works for me. This may seem like a waste of time to some, but I’ve done if for so long that it’s second nature to me. I actually really enjoy putting my bill book together, and honestly feel that it helps me so much. If you find this the least bit helpful, and would like another post like this – please let me know! Be sure to check out the video below (sound on). If you’d like to see how I actually set up my bill book, let me know. Hope ya’ll enjoyed this post!
Until next time,