I use a few very simple tools to help create and stay on budget. Before you can craft a budget, you need to know what your monthly bills are. Having a monthly bills list has made my life so much easier. In a quick snapshot, I know what needs to be paid and when.
Most of our bills are on automatic payment. The only bills I pay manually are the mortgage and home equity line. Since they are due a few days a part, I log on and schedule the payments at the same time. This keeps me from forgetting to pay one of them. The only reason the mortgage is not on autopay is because Bank of America would charge me $4.00 per month for the service. No thank you! The HELOC is paid manually because Bank of America would not let me set up a $300 per month payment. The minimum payment is based on the interest due and fluctuates each month. I wanted to pay $300 a month so we are at least paying a bit of principle down while working the debt snowball. It’s only about $30 a month, but it is something and makes it easier for me to budget. I hate making interest only payments.
When I create my 28 day budget, having a list of my monthly bills makes the task so much easier. I can quickly see if any of the monthly bills are not due in the next 28 days. If you are doing a budget on paper, this is especially helpful because you have all the amounts you need right there.
Each time we get paid, I use the monthly bills list to update my check register.
You can create a monthly bills list on paper, but I would recommend something like Excel or Google Spreadsheets. I have mine in Google Spreadsheets because I can access it anywhere, even my phone. I’m not tied to a particular computer so if I have a few minutes to work on the budget or update my check register, I can just pop it open. The other reason I like having the monthly bills list in an electronic format is I can’t lose it. I love paper all the time which is why I try not to generate any. Paper that comes into the house gets immediately scanned and shredded. An electronic copy also allows you to easily update the list as monthly bills change or you pay things off.
The first step in getting yourself organized is to create a monthly bills list. It just takes a few minutes but it will save you so much time each month.