Although it can be considered one of my least favorite times of the month, bill paying is a household chore we just can’t avoid. We all have bills of some sort; mortgages, utilities, medical, insurance… And missing those bills or paying them late translates to high fees and sad faces.
My husband and I share the bill paying process, and the last few years we have been using a budget binder to manage our incoming papers and track our finances. However, as much as I loved it, over time, my husband found it too much to maintain. He wasn’t a fan of hunting down a three-hole punch to manage our paperwork twice a month. We also found that we were always gathering items from around the house when we finally would sit down and get to work. Therefore, we decided to revisit our system this year and I thought I would share our alternative solution to the binder, as I am guessing my husband is not the only one who is not a fan of that setup.
I searched high and low for some sort of bill paying caddy that would also fit document sized folders, but came up short. In the end, I knew I needed something super simple for us to access. No punching, no digging… I landed on a lidded file box from the Container Store. We have used file boxes in the past, even to hold all of our files at one point in time, and have always loved their portability factor.
This file box is basically a temporary holding spot until papers can either be shredded or filed away more permanently in our filing cabinet (seen here). I know this system is not for everyone; some may have a process for sorting, managing and filing right at their desk. However, based on our routine, this is what we have found works best for us.
We determined which categories we prefer to manage throughout the course of a month. They are:
- To Pay: All mail that comes in that requires review and payment.
- Paid: Where the statement is transferred to after the payment is made. These stay in the folder for a few months until payment is confirmed and they can be shredded or filed away for good.
- To Do: Where mail and papers live that require action (i.e. call insurance rep, schedule auto maintenance, activate check card, etc…)
- Receipts: Any receipts that require review while reconciling our checking account.
- Taxes: Important papers that we receive throughout the year we need to keep at hand until tax time.
Inside of the To Pay folder, I clipped in our Finance Checklist, which allows us to track all bills paid throughout the month and track payments over the course of the entire year.
All of the folders were placed within hanging files inside of the file box, and are easy to find and sort as mail comes in throughout the month.
We pay our bills in advance; on the first and fifteenth of each month. With this update, I also wanted to ensure all of our essentials were also located within the file box.
Things we always find ourselves reaching for on bill day:
- Letter Opener
There are many ways you could add these items to your bill box. You could use a pouch or a hanging file box. I opted to dig into my inner creative and purchased an acrylic shadow box from Michaels for around $4.
I was hoping that the frame would have an acrylic front and back, but unfortunately, it was just the front. The insert for the frame was a hollow cardboard box.
Using a box cutter, I sliced off the top of the box. I then used tape to reinforce the corners, and covered the entire box in leftover marble contact paper.
I tossed in my essential items, and added the lid. Boom! Pretty bill paying supply box, which tucks away nicely inside of our new file box.
The file box is stored on a shelf in my studio for now, however, I see it landing near our entryway in the future and taking over for one of our wall pockets. And we love that the system is portable because we tend to do our bill paying in different areas of our home.
Another organizing kit, another 15 minutes invested to save oodles of time down the road, and another easy peasy sanity saving solution to a mundane task.