“Adulting” can be really hard. It seems that as a kid, being an adult is what you are working for. You imagine living in a beautiful house, driving to your dream job in your luxury car, without a care in the world about your income, bills, or 401Ks. It’s quite blissful until you are rudely thrust into reality. Suddenly you find yourself driving to your studio apartment in the used car your parents bought you in high school. You have your diploma in one hand, miss-matched socks on your feet, and not a clue what to do next.
After I graduated from college with my nursing degree, I moved directly to a new state to join my then fiancé/now husband. I was lucky enough to have a good job lined up, but I had never really had to worry about a budget or bills. I have always been very frugal and conscientious about spending money, but I never had to worry about having enough to pay the ‘big bills’. I have fantastic parents (who are great at managing their money) who handled the ‘big bills’ while I was getting my education. This was great when I was in school because I did not have to worry about having money for rent, utilities, car insurance or even my cellphone bill. I took care of all incidentals, clothes, and food. You might say I was a little spoiled, but when I was launched into the ‘real world’ it was a tough learning curve. I had SO many questions. I did have great resources in my parents and husband, but like anything, you have to figure out what works best for you. I have compiled a list of what I do to organize my bills and make sure I pay them on time.
Know how much money you will have and when you will get more. Obviously, when it comes to paying bills, you need to have money. Most banks have apps now that allow you to keep track of your bank account on the go. My bank’s app lets me see both my checking and savings accounts, as well as what is due on my credit card. It will also let me transfer money within the app and deposit money into my accounts. I like how visual this app is; it clearly displays how much I have in my accounts at any one time. I like to plan ahead and know what’s coming in all aspects of my life, this is the same with money. I get paid biweekly, on Fridays. Although, this seems like an obvious thing to remember, some weeks run together. In order to make this easier on my brain, I went into the calendar on my iPhone and added in “payday” events biweekly to easily keep track. The last thing I do to be realistic about what is in my bank account, is transfer money as soon as I have it. My paycheck is directly deposited into my checking account, but I have a savings account as well as a specific savings account for bills. As soon as I get paid I transfer a set amount into my both of my savings accounts, this way I know it is there for when I need to pay my bills, and that I cannot touch it as it is not linked to my debit or credit card. At this time I also pay off or put a payment towards my credit card bill- this helps to build credit, too. Having a strategy for my money makes me feel more secure and makes my life less stressful. I will say, I rarely waiver from the amounts of money that I take out per paycheck for my savings and my ‘bill-savings’ but some months you need to be flexible. For example, I knew last month (December) I would be spending
Okay. Whew. Now that you have money and know when you will get paid you can utilize other options to organize your payments!
Make a large monthly calendar that you can make changes to. I bought a large cork-board from Walmart for about $8 and a pack of regular sized post-it notes and mini post-it notes in a variety of colors. Using the standard size post-it notes, I wrote a number 1-31 in the upper right corner. These are your calendar days. Then I used one color of the mini post-it notes and wrote one day of the week on each. Once my days of the weeks and days were arranged on the board, depending on the month, I was ready to start
adding in the important stuff. I looked forward into my calendar to see when my bills were due. Although some bills, like our phone bill is always due on the same day, other bills fluctuate. Looking them up helps me be proactive and plan my month. I use different color sticky notes for different things. For example, green is used for bills that are NOT automatically paid; pink is used for bills that ARE automatically paid, and blue post-it notes are used for events. I include events on my calendar because usually money will have to be set aside for these occasions. I am a visual person, so this big monthly calendar is helpful for me to plan and see what is coming. That said, you do have to be committed to keep it up to date!
I also use weekly planners, lists and sticky-notes to stay organized. It is very satisfying to be able to cross something off of your list or to take down a sticky note you have completed. The last thing I really utilize is the “reminder app” which is standard on the iPhone. I put in running alerts for bills. For example, each month on the 30th, I get a reminder to pay rent on the 1st. This reminder will stay there until I mark it as completed. Just another thing that makes me more accountable.
The last thing I do to organize my bills, is to use a small filing system. I have a variety of sections that help keep not only my bills and payments organized, but also other aspects of my life. I go through this annually and clean it out. I do not do this in January, rather I wait after we have filed our taxes in March.
I know it seems like a lot, and honestly, it might be overkill but this is what has worked for me. I have always been someone who abides by due dates (turning in anything late always made me feel guilty and gave me heart palpitations) so knowing I am doing everything in my power to make sure I stay on track, is comforting to me. If you struggle paying your bills on time, I would suggest starting off with maybe one or two of these methods and see what happens!
“Don’t worry, kids. Being an adult is mostly just Googling how to do stuff.”
I hope this post helps you organize your bills and payments a little better. Let me know if you add any of these tips and tricks into your daily routines. What other ways have you organized your life?
XOXO, Cait B.