The family finances can be difficult to deal with at times. Financial struggles are a huge source of stress for a lot of families, especially if only one person is working in the household. You can reduce stress and keep your finances in order when you carefully implement the following five steps.
1. Understand what is coming
Take a look at every bill you pay for one month to fully grasp what will coming in every month. It’s easy to do this! Purchase a large envelope for all of your bills. Starting on the first of the month, put the statement into the envelope after you pay the bill (if you get the bill in the mail.) If you pay a certain bill online, print out the statement and add that to the pile. Consider any other bills that you may pay quarterly, such as taxes, and put that into the envelope.
2. Categorize it all
At the end of the month, categorize every bill into three piles: monthly, quarterly, and annually. Note how much you pay for each bill on the very top. Write down how you pay it as well. Do you have it on auto-pay? Do you mail a check? What account does it come out of when you do pay it? This gives you a very clear picture of how your finances are paid. This is especially important if someone else needs to take over the finances for any reason.
3. Keep things handy
Keep a good binder on hand that you can use just for your bills. Take every bill that you categorized and punch a hole in it before placing it into the binder. This gives you a great place to look if you ever need to reference the bills. If someone other than yourself needs to check out the finances, this is a clear way of keeping everything organized and neat. No one wants to have to scour through mountains of paperwork when they need to take care of the finances abruptly.
4. Put it in a safe place
Once you are through organizing the binder, put it away in a safe place. You also don’t want to label the binder anything obvious, such as “important bill and financial information.” If you can lock it somewhere, great! If not, put it in an inconspicuous place. However, your significant other should always know where it is. If you have adult children who may eventually have to deal with your finances, you can also let them know what to look for.
5. Coordinate with your significant other
Once you know exactly what you pay every month, talk to your spouse or partner. You should both be able to pay the bills if something happens to the other person. If your bills are automatically paid online, make sure you can each log-in to the website. You should both be able to access all of the accounts at all times. You don’t want any issues if the other partner has to suddenly take over the financial responsibilities.