5 Steps to Easier Family Finances

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Know what's coming
Do a full audit of your bills for a month to understand what is really coming in the mailbox or by email. An easy way to do this is to grab a big envelope and put every bill that you receive in that envelope (print the ones you receive online). After you pay the bill, put the statement back in the envelope. Then make a note of other bills that may be quarterly or annual, put those notes in your envelope too. This will provide a true picture of your recurring bills.

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Categorize
Now take all the bills in your envelope and categorize whether they are monthly, quarterly, or annual. Then note how you pay each one by writing that directly on the top of your statement or note. Be specific: what account is it paid from, is it on auto-pay from your bank account, do you have it charged to a credit card, or do you mail a check?

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Make it handy
Here's the creative part. Make a binder that can be kept handy with all your bill payment information in it. It's easily done: take each bill that you just categorized, hole punch it, and then put it in the binder. Now you have a reference that will guide you through a difficult situation. Additionally, you've just created one of your most powerful budgeting tools by documenting all your bills.

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Keep it safe
Put your binder is in a safe place. Don’t label it “Important Financial Information” and put it beside your computer on your desk at home. Lock your binder away or put it in an inconspicuous place.

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Coordinate
Now that you have an idea of what you owe each month, make sure that both of you can actually pay the bills. If you use a bill-paying service, make sure that both of you can log-in; same goes if you have auto-pay set up on your checking account. Always make sure that you both can access the accounts to take care of your family finances.

Plus:
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