How to Set Up a Filing and Budget System that Really Works via Clean Mama

I’ve had so many requests for an update of my budget system and I finally have one for you today, just in time for the new year! I have implemented a number of budget systems over the past few years and have lots of ideas for what works and what doesn’t. There are a couple musts to make a budget system work and lots of ways to get to it to work for you.

Here are the MUSTS:

  • PLACE to keep, pay, and file bills – this can be in an office, a portable file cabinet, or a basket. The location doesn’t have to be in the same place, but it can be, make it work for you.
  • TRACK your bills and payments – this can be as simple as a check register or as in-depth as a whole budget notebook.
  • ROUTINE – put budget and bill paying into your routine so it isn’t overwhelming. I find that opening and filing bills daily and paying/tracking bills on Fridays is really helpful.

Here’s how I set up my filing and budget system – I hope it helps you get started!

Budget System via Clean Mama

I keep budget and bill paying supplies and records in my office. I have a couple pieces of furniture and accessories that I love and I believe function really well for me, but you can choose different solutions or use what you have to accomplish the same thing. (If you’re trying to get your budget in order the last thing you want to do is spend more money, right?)

FILING SYSTEM – here’s how I set mine up. Depending on what you have that needs to be filed this can take minutes or days. NOW is the time to get moving on this, it’s so much easier to start with the new year.

File Folders via Clean Mama

WALL SYSTEM – I purchased this wall system from Pottery Barn and I love it. I have tried a couple other systems and found that this works the best for my office. The components can be arranged to meet your needs and they get those papers that need to be dealt with in plain view. I have 4 pockets with 4 different categories:

Wall Pocket Categories via Clean Mama

  • TO PAY – this is where I put bills that need to get paid during the CURRENT month. I use a clothes pin to keep them all together and so I can quickly grab them when I sit down to pay bills.
  • TO FILE – these are bills and papers that need to find a home in the filing system. I gather these for a month and then shred what can be shredded and file the rest.
  • IN PROCESS – these are bills that I might need at a moment’s notice – something for my business, important financial papers, things that are currently going on. For instance, if you are re-financing your home you would keep all those pay stubs and other papers in this pocket until the deal is done. Then file or shred.
  • CLEAN MAMA (BUSINESS) – I keep current contracts and other important papers here. When I don’t need to access them anymore, they get filed.

BUDGET + BILL PAYING TRACKERS and PRINTABLES – This is my SECRET to staying on top of the bills, getting the bills paid on time, and getting rid of debt. Having all the information handy in my homekeeping notebook is the key – I can take a peek and see if I paid the electric bill or what the balance is on an account.

Budget Worksheet and Bill and Payment Checklist via Clean Mama

Yes, I do online bill pay, but this system works in tandem with online bill paying. I love it and my hubby does too – it’s great for accountability and all the bills, payments, and balances can be seen at a glance. I have a few different budget kits in my shop, but I am currently using the Everyday Budget + Bill Pay Kit. You can see all my printables in my shop here.

DESK – bill get paid and filed here. I can do both from my chair and having everything at an arm’s reach make bill paying and filing easy and as enjoyable as possible. This is the desk and file cabinet I have – I love the proportions and size.

Desk for Bill Paying via Clean Mama

With a PLACE to organize and pay bills, a system to TRACK bills paid, and a ROUTINE in place, you can definitely get your budget in order for 2015! If you need some help getting your paper piles under control, you’ll appreciate this post: 8 Ways to Get a Handle on Paper Clutter. What’s your biggest budget dilemma?