A year ago I moved out of my parent’s house and started living on my own with my sister as a roommate. It was the first time I was completely in charge of bills, setting up accounts, and leasing a property. I was like a fish out of water and basically winged it the first few months.
It was an interesting transition. All of a sudden I was in charge of paying 7+ bills, all with different due dates and different methods of payment. Some were even packaged with each other. At first I just wrote due dates down on post-its and busted out the calculator when the time came, but now I keep track of things in a much easier way: iCal (Windows users: I recommend Google Calendar, which works just as well). It’s the best method I’ve found that works for me, and the best part is that it’s clutter-free and super easy. No paperwork (I sign up for Paperless Billing whenever it’s available), no hassle, and most important: no late payments.
The month of August currently looks like this:
I note when I get paid, when certain bills are due, and how much I should be putting away for certain things like rent, savings, and paying off my debt. This helps me not only keep track of where my money is going, but it’s a great way to make sure I’m never late on payments. To this day I’ve never been late on a payment and my credit score thanks me for it.
One benefit I love about iCal is that I can select which “calendars” I can look at. For example, in the image above you’re looking at three of the calendars: Rent, Payday, and Bills. This helps me focus and zero in on what I’m looking for.
On every Payday I jot down how much money I need to take out from each paycheck. I divide rent, savings, and credit card payments this way so that I have plenty of money left over every two weeks. This isn’t necessary if you have some money left over from previous paychecks like I do, but since I don’t have an emergency fund set in place yet, this helps me be a little more at peace. I make sure I take out the money that same day because sometimes I have a tendency of forgetting how much money I have to set aside and end up spending much more than I should.
I do most of my banking online because it’s instant. There is a date and a description for every transaction, and it usually takes three days at the most to see current balances. If I’m confused about something I just match up the dates and the amounts that are on my bank statement with what’s in my calendar. It’s incredibly easy and I wish I had done it sooner. Usually the due dates for bills are always due on the same day, so I just do a lot of copying and pasting and that’s about as hard as it gets. The rest is dilligence and planning. I highly recommend this for young people just starting out and managing multiple bills!
How do you keep track of your monthly finances?