Living in a digital age often means that we rely heavily on the interwebs to handle most of our bills. Gone are the days where we wrote out monthly checks, replaced by a day of bank transfers, and credit card payments. Of course, I know where everything is, but recently it occurred to me that were something to happen to me, Big G would be left in the dark. Not to mention, whenever we want to have a conversation about the budget it’s hard for me to aggregate all of the puzzle pieces to give him a good financial photo. So, I decided to make a Family Finance Binder.
Here’s What I Did:
First I gathered my materials-
- Binder: It’s back to school time, which means it’s a great time to score a fabulous binder on the cheap. I chose a Five Star Mead binder with a fabric binding, so it stores easily, and lays flat when I use it. Plus it came with a few tabbed dividers with folders that will come in handy.
- Label-maker (optional) – A few years ago I scored a Casio Label-It label-maker, and haven’t looked back. It comes in handy for so many different projects. There’s nothing like a clearly labeled tab.
- Printer- of course you can also go to staples.
- Printer paper and cardstock- some of the printables are better on cardstock, but that’s up to you too.
- Time & Patience: It can be a little tedious to get everything started, and follow it all the way through.
First I decided to create specific sections of the binder. So I made the following labels:
- Family Documents (to be added soon)
This tab goes on one of those folder tabs so you can stick any important documents/bills for that month so you can have them in one place until you file them.
Monthly Bills at a glance
I created a a document in word that would track my overall monthly expenses at a glance. In the “date” column I enter the day of the month the bill is due. In the “bill” column I write the description of the bill. If the amount is a fixed amount, I write it in the “amount” column, and if not I write the amount under that month’s column. Then I total them all in the last row. When each bill is paid I just hit it with my favorite highlighter to indicate that it’s been paid.
There’s always some kind of bill that comes up that isn’t part of our recurrent monthly bills. So I created a sheet where I can keep track of those every month. I labeled each one by month and use a color sticky tab to denote each month. I track each of those expenses, and total each one on the bottom row.
The plan is to sit down with Big G at the end of each month, and plan out how to allocate our funds. So I created a worksheet where we can insert the totals from the monthly bills sheet, the rogue bills sheet, and all of our other financial allocations. This is where we determine our monthly spending money for each of us, how much we’ll put into our savings, holidays/birthdays, charities, set aside our 52 Week Savings Plan money, prescriptions/copays, groceries, entertainment and more. I leave blank lines here in case there are things we need to add. This way we literally be on the same page about where our money for the month is going to go. I printed out one for each month (changing the headers accordingly) and stick it behind the Rogue bills for that month.
This is on a simple divider tab since no folder is really needed for this section.
This is one of those sections that I was really hesitant to create, because it makes me nervous to have so much sensitive information in one place. So do this at your own discretion. I keep this binder in a secret, safe place to ease my concerns. Truly the biggest reason I decided to aggregate this information here is because this is the kind of info Big G will need should anything ever happen to me. I have an entry for every single financial account I have, including insurance policies, user names, and passwords for logging in.
This tab goes on a top-loading folder tab. This way you can stash all of your receipts from co-pays, and prescriptions.
Prescriptions and Co-pays
I don’t know about you, but I’m terrible at keeping track of all of my co-pays and prescriptions. It’s the biggest pain in the bottom at tax time. So I was the most excited about this sheet. While I was making it I went through all of my bank statements to find everything I’ve paid out to this date. Then I printed out a few extra sheets to help track them. Every time we have a doctor visit, or buy a prescription I can track it here. Plus I can make a note next to any one which I was able to get reimbursed by my FSA/HSA. This is going to make tax time a heck of a lot easier.
This also goes on a top loading folder tab. This way I can tuck in tax documents as they arrive.
Charitable Contributions & Donations
I decided to put this sheet under the taxes tab. Over the course of a year we do a little charitable giving, whether it’s in the form of a sustaining member program where we contribute a fixed monthly donation, or occasional donations to our favorite charities where we donate our old clothes, toys, and appliances after a major unneeded items purge. This sheet has a column to denote a recurrent payment, or a fixed amount. There’s also a column where you can enter the address for the charity right on the sheet so you don’t have to look elsewhere to find it at tax time. I’ve included a folder behind this sheet where I can keep the receipts they give you when they do those handy home donation pick ups.
I have to admit that I’m really stoke to finally have this binder put together. In fact, this week I’m planning to add even more. For example, I’ll be adding a section for all of our personal documents, social security cards, passports, copies of credit cards, birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc. This will make renewing our licenses easier, and will be only one thing to grab in case we have to pack up and go in an emergency. I’ll also be creating another printable soon, which will include a picture, description, personal information, and even a fingerprint card from the local police station for each member of the family. This I will endeavor to update annually. We don’t like to think of losing our children, but making sure you have that information before you’re in an emergency will help ensure that you don’t miss anything during the trauma of it all.
Do you have a Family Finance Binder? What do you keep in it?