Organizing Your Finances Doesn't Have to be Complicated

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Organizing Your Finances Doesn't Have to be Complicated

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With the fog of sleepiness slowly lifting on a lazy Saturday morning, I rolled over to find my wife staring at me, eyes wide open, head propped up on one hand as if she had been waiting for me to wake up.

"We should get more organized," she said in a clear, matter-of-fact tone.  

I was then informed that the rest of the day should be spent putting seasonal decorations into color-coded bins, collecting tools from the garage shelves and putting them back into my toolbox, cleaning our  closet out and putting everything back in an orderly and easy to find fashion, and sorting and organizing the "junk" drawer in the kitchen  again.

Apparently she had been awake for awhile.

As the day progressed, we made our way through the list of tasks together. When we finally made it to the last item on the list-the kitchen drawers-I thought I was home free. Opening the junk drawer, Vonnie pointed to the lower right corner and said, "Can we do something different with that? One day, you're going to lose something important." 

She was referencing the stack of bills that continuously occupies the lower right corner of that particular kitchen drawer. I could see her point, because that drawer is almost always a disaster area of electronics chargers, keys, store ads, and phone books. Whenever we clean it out we always end up saying the phrase, "I've been looking for that!"  It didn't seem like a good idea to have something as important as our monthly bill statements being stored in the kitchen "junk" drawer.

Off to the office supply store I went.

I returned with a letter organizer with three separate slots, which is perfect for how we have structured the payment of our bills:

Beginning of the month:  On the 1st of the month, I grab the stack of bills out of the drawer, and find those that are due between the 1st and 14th of the month and pay them.  These bills will now go into the first slot in the letter organizer.

Middle of the month:  On the 15th of the month, I again go through the stack of bills from the drawer and filter out those due between the 15th and the end of the month for payment.  These bills will now go into the middle slot.

DMP accounts:  Credit card bills that are enrolled in our debt management plan will now reside in the third and final slot in the organizer.

When I need to do one of the cycles of bills, or review our DMP accounts, I simply grab the pre-sorted group of statements from the appropriate slot. The organizer will sit on the computer desk, where I do the bill payments and account reconciliation, preventing the statements from being strewn around the junk drawer when someone is scrounging around for an iPod charger. 

I think Vonnie was expecting something more elaborate than my $6 letter organizer, but organizing the finances is just as much mental as it is physical. Once I explained my plan she was 100% on board.

Now, if I can just keep the cat from knocking it off the computer desk.

Related Links:

Taking Control....The Whiteboard Budget

Straight Talk on Debt Weekly Reading: Organizing Your Finances

Long Distance Budget

Travis Pizel, Debt Management Plan Customer with Leading Provider of Debt Relief, CareOne Services, Inc. Travis Pizel

Travis is a contributing writer for the My Journey out of Debt and A Straight Talk on Debt blogs. He is also a very active member of the CareOne community forums. Travis is currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Management Plan (DMP). Travis candidly shares his personal journey to pay off his debt and the tips he's learned along the way. As a father and husband he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances, and family. You can also read more from Travis on the Enemy of Debt blog, where he is a featured blogger. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

Follow Travis on Twitter @DebtChronicles

To connect with Travis on Google+ click here

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  • I love this idea............................ that little investment of time doing the set-up is so worth it.   Believe it or not, it takes some of the stress out of bill paying, because you never have to worry about where any particular bill or paperwork might be.  Does everyone in America have a junk drawer?  I'm pretty sure I know the answer to that.

  • I agree with conradsmom.  That was a great way to figure out how to organize your bills.  Now to work on the cat LOL!!

  • Organization is a huge key to success - I think you'd agree, Julie (conradsmom).  Can't pay a bill that you can't find!  

    We actually have two junk drawers....although one of them is officially called the "school" drawer to put anything important that comes home from school.  You can imagine that everyone's idea of "important" is different, so it collects a lot of paper until we decide to clean it out again.  LOL.

  • Oh...Monica (mdavis1964).....that cat.  Its big, and orange, and bats anything it can move off of any counter, table, or desk.  It's part of why we love her so much....but also why she's sooooo frustrating.

  • Shockingly enough, I have the SAME system! Same cat too LOL! I actually got a file holder and hung it on the wall my my desk. The first of the month, middle of the month and CareOne folders are in the top section of the holder. The middle section has a folder for each kid and one for both. The bottom section has one for coupons, on for recipes and one for workout ideas. (Those are things I tend to print out when I find them) I have to keep my desk clear because my cat will chew or lay on any paper. She will also grab it and try to walk off with it. If there is any non-paper items on my desk she will smack it until it is on the floor and out of her space. By her space, I mean anywhere she wants to be at that time LOL.

  • Oh, great minds think alike and all that, huh kimer5000?  I do need to find somewhere to keep coupons as I'm trying to conquer that shopping niche too.  You and I should introduce our cats.....together they could rule the world.  Hahaha!

  • LOL Great Idea! I keep saying I should get a tax credit for her. She is much more dependent than my children!

  • I think your solution was great! Cheap and it works! My husband decided to use his old briefcase that had gotten too worn for work as his bill paying organizer. It had plenty of pockets and some dividers already built in. He kept stamps and envelopes there too, though now he pays most of our bills online. He liked that he could carry it from room to room as his little bill-paying desk! Whatever works for you is the best!

  • "Whatever works for you is the best!" <------- Great quote!  An old briefcase sounds like a perfect solution - a portable bill paying desk - and I bet no cat will push that off the desk - LOL.  So happy to hear from you Maggie!

  • This is really a good idea. I started organizing lately too after I missed my due date for credit card payment bill. I got busy and just totally forgot about it. Now, I started writing in the diary my due dates. Also, I aim to organize our other personal files like insurance policies, investments related docs. Though I kept individual envelopes, I still want to organize it properly.

    It feels weird but I have this thought that what if I will die tomorrow.  At least I will leave them with organize files and they know where to find it.

    Cheers

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