I have to tell you something.
Promise you won't judge, OK?
I don't balance my checkbook.
Are you shocked?
This is how I used to keep track of my bills:
I am très chic, no?
Years ago I kept one of those teensie tiny little checkbook registers, adding and subtracting everything down to the penny. But you know how those things are...one little mistake and you end up with half a page of scribbly blue and black ink.
Some time after we got married, Hubs and I bought a computer and Quicken software came with it.
Somehow I just couldn't keep the thing synched with our bank account properly.
(I admit - I actually sent in for that free training CD from the Video Professor. That didn't help me, either.)
Once it was off by a hundred dollars or so I'd scrap the whole thing and cheat, putting in a fake entry to make it balance.
That quickly got irritating and I made up my own system.
Enter The Big Purple Notebook.
The Big Purple Notebook was simple. Because we don't get many paper bills and pay most things online, I would simply keep a page for each month listing our bills, when they were due and how much they were for. In that list (sorted by date) were also our pay dates with approximate amounts filled in as well.
The page or two following would be left for doing math and estimating what our remaining balance would be.
Our online bank account records were reviewed regularly to make sure no "weirdness" was going on, and to confirm that our payments went through. We're relatively conservative spenders, so this worked well for many years. We always kept a few hundred dollars of "cush" to cover any unexpected expenses or to pay for a larger item or repair if we wanted it or needed it.
Lately, though, I've wanted something more. My system (or complete lack thereof) didn't allow for a whole lot of budgeting. I browsed Web sites for hours looking for the perfect accounting materials.
I gave up. Products with good reviews looked like bus driver mileage logs with grey carboard covers and vague shots of graph paper inside.
I have an affinity for pretty office products, people.
So I bought this at the local Wally World:
Definitely a step up from the The Big Purple Notebook but its far from perfect. I'd love to find a great organizer and budgeting system that's easy to use and pretty, too. (You'll see I have a pretty new notebook and an expanding organizer that matches for miscellaneous paperwork.)
What do you use for bill organization and budgeting?