I wanted to be able to use my binder as a budget and bill payment system as well a place to keep other important financial documents.
These are the materials I used to make the binder:(the links lead to examples of where you can get these materials on Amazon.com, but these materials should be available at most office supply stores)
- Plain White 3-Ring Binder
- Plastic Page or Sheet Protectors
- Transparent Index Dividers w/ Pockets
- Plastic Binder Envelope
- Money Management Printables (made by me!)
Once I had my materials on hand, I started putting everything together! This is what my Financial Binder ended up looking like:
Instead of a cover page, I slipped a Bill Payment Checklist printable in the plastic. This is where I can write all the different bills that must be paid for the whole year. I can also write the amount that needs to be paid, the date, and then I simply check off the month that the bill was paid. This checklist comes in really useful for keeping track of bills that don't have a regular monthly schedule like property taxes and various insurances.
When the binder is opened, you will see this:
This is where I put the clear plastic envelope which has a handy snap closure. Here I can put bank booklets, deposit/withdrawal slips, and pens for writing. You can also keep checkbooks in the envelope. The inside cover of the binder has a clear plastic pocket and this is where I keep bills pending payment.
The next section of the binder has my Bank Account Information printable, which is where I write down all the little details associated with our bank accounts. This includes card numbers, pins, websites, usernames and passwords, etc. This will come in handy if we should ever lose any of our ATM cards.
Next up is the section where I can write down all our credit card information, and where we can keep track of our monthly bills. On the Bill Payment Calendar, I would note the current month and then fill in the dates in the provided spaces. Then I would fill in which bills are due for that particular month and I can check them off when paid. This is useful because we pay all our bills online and they need to be paid a few days in advance to make sure the payment is reflected by the bill's due date. For example, if our electric bill was due on the 10th of each month, I would write that the bill needs to be paid on the 7th or 8th of the month.
Flip the page and you'll see another Bill Payment Calendar behind the one on the previous page (all ready for the next month), and a Daily Expense Tracker. This is pretty self explanatory, but just to make sure, this is where we can keep track of all our expenses for the purposes of budgeting. Speaking of budgeting....
...this is where our Budget Planner goes! Here my husband and I can create a budget and see how we're doing with income vs. expenses. (Not fun and not easy, but at least it's organized! :D )
After the budget planner, I have various financial documents (like those for investments) in plastic page protectors. Finally, we come to the transparent page dividers which are nice and colorful.
Since I can't be bothered to punch holes in papers, I highly suggest getting transparent dividers that have pockets like the ones I got. After bills are paid, I slip them into the pockets of the dividers. Each divider holds one set of bills. In between the dividers you can keep other financial documents related to your bills (ie, bank statements) in yet more plastic page protectors. At the end of this year, I'll transfer the bills I want to keep to storage and the binder will be ready for 2013!
Oh and after I pay bills, I rack up extra O.C. points for stamping each bill with my 'Paid' date stamp like they do in some offices. There's just something very satisfying about stamping that bill, kind of like the satisfaction you may get from checking off a check box when a task is done.
So far, this system is working very well and if it somehow evolves in the future, I'll be sure to update this post!
* Please note that for privacy reasons, I did not fill in my printables or include actual bills in the photos above.
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