Paid bills are among important documents you need to secure. So here are simple systems to help you organize paid bills!
Have you found yourself in a situation where you needed a receipt and could not find it anywhere, or that it has turned into a crumpled mess because it was at the bottom of your purse?
Most of the time, the need to retrieve a paid bill happens when your payment was not acknowledged properly.
Billing discrepancies can be a headache. You know you paid the bill last month so why does it not show in your current bill? Now you need proof of payment.
This is where you have to bring out your paid bills as a reference.
But wait – where did you put last month’s bill? Did you throw it away?
Bill receipts can be troublesome to manage – in fact, they can lead to paper clutter.
But dealing with bill disputes becomes so much simpler when you have all the needed receipts at hand.
Since you must hold on to your paid bills for a certain period of time, all you have to do is find a good organizing system that works best for you.
How to Arrange Your Paid Bills
1. Arrange paid bills by month
You can arrange your paid bills by the month they were paid.
Create 12 divisions labeled from January to December. Arrange your paid bills accordingly.
If you encounter a discrepancy, all you have to do is check the month that they say you didn’t pay..
2. Arrange paid bills by category
You can also arrange your paid bills by category such as rent, power, water, Internet, phone, tuition fees, insurance fees, credit card, etc.
This could mean less than 12 divisions for you, depending on how many monthly bills you pay.
When a discrepancy comes up, check its category and look for the month that they claim you missed payment.
If you choose this method, I suggest you arrange the categories alphabetically. Arrange the paid bills too in chronological order, where the latest month comes first. This way, retrieving what you need will be a faster process.
Where to Keep Your Paid Bills
You can use color-coded folders to store your billing statements. This is the best method if you have your own home office, or you have a designated place to keep all important documents like a filing cabinet.
If you have your own desk, you can use one of the drawers as a filing cabinet.
Another alternative for a filing cabinet is a letter-size portable file box. Having a different color for each category will help you locate the folder you need right away.
Ring of envelopes
This one is more of like a DIY organization project.
Get envelopes of different colors and write a label on them. Punch a hole on these envelopes and then use a binder ring to keep everything together.
Now, you have a DIY receipt ring!
It is a good project since you can add or subtract envelopes any time you want depending on how many categories you need.
You can also get a couple of hard-bound ring binders to store your paid bills.
All you have to do is punch holes in your bill receipts to fit them in the binder.
Or better yet, get plastic fillers for the binder so you can simply just insert the bills in the plastic file. Your binders can then be shelved just like books. It is a neat and easy system that even your kids would understand how you keep your receipts!
Magazine file holders
If you have the shelf space, you can buy a magazine file holder for every category you have and then place envelopes in it for every sub-category. Then place folders or dividers in each envelope representing the 12 months.
For example, a magazine file holder will be labeled Utilities. Then, you will have envelopes for Power and Water.
In each of the envelopes, there are divisions labeled from January to December.
I know this takes a bit more time compared to the other methods but it does help retrieve things easier.
Accordion envelopes keep important paperworks organized and have them all in one container.
These come with divisions and colored labels (most of the time alphabetical).
The large-sized ones can handle long bond paper-sized documents and the small-sized ones can handle index card-sized documents. So, think about the size of the paper bills and receipts that you receive to decide which accordion envelope size suits your needs.
You can also buy a plastic bin and treat it as if it is a portable filing cabinet. Insert envelopes or folders in it (depending on the size) and add tags so you can easily see the category and retrieve what you need.
Using a plastic bin also assures you that the papers will be protected from unfriendly elements.
If it won’t hurt your budget, you can also use a safe deposit box.
This may seem an overstep to keep your paid bills but the best thing is that you get to keep other irreplaceable documents such as birth certificate, death certificate, marriage certificate, citizenship papers, property deeds, vehicle titles, mortgage contacts, and other legally binding documents in it as well.
Of course, you can place cash and jewelry in it too. These safe boxes are often fireproof too, so that’s a plus!
Most companies now have the option to provide you paperless bills and receipts.
They will send you a digital copy of the bills and receipts through your e-mail. This is mostly a part of a company’s initiative to go green.
It also means less paper clutter to deal with. All you have to do is download the document, or save the image or take a screenshot of the whole bill and save it on your computer, hard drive, or cloud.
Always make sure to have a back-up copy in case something happens to your computer or hard drive.
It also helps to have a separate e-mail for all your bills and receipts. This way, it is easier to keep track of your bills.
If you feel safer having a hard copy to file away, just print the digital receipt.
Use a software
There are accounting and bookkeeping software that you can use to keep a better track of your digital bill receipts. These apps can also keep track of your payment schedule.
Of course, you still have to capture everything digitally but software can help you when it comes to the organizing and retrieving part of these files.
If you are running a business, using a software can be a real help not only in keeping record of paid bills, but also in giving you a report of what happens with your money.
How Long Should You Keep Paid Bills?
Some people usually keep their paid bills only until the next bill statement comes in.
After all, the point is to confirm that the company has credited the previous payment to your account properly. But the general rule is that you should keep your paid bills for a maximum of a year – just in case.
When it comes to bill disputes, it is best that you keep the records and documents involved for at least two to three years to be on the safe side.
The issue may be resolved but there are times that technical glitches can undo this. Having records of the issue being settled is a surefire way to defend yourself from these discrepancies.
If you run your own business, take note that billing statements that can be used to back up your tax documents are a different case.
You should keep them for about seven years. The IRS actually requires you to keep receipts on expenses that are above $75. For business expenses, it helps to make notes on the receipts such as what a business meeting was about and who was with you. This will greatly help for auditing.
For billing statements that should be kept for a couple of years, it is best to scan them or take a clear picture of them since the print on paper can fade away over time. Having a digital copy ensures that you’re still safe in case you lose your receipts or the print fades.
Organizing paid bills should be simple.
Bill receipts are proof that you have paid and done your part in ensuring that a certain service continues.
These pieces of paper should not be taken for granted. You better think twice before you place one in the trash because you might need it one day.
Keeping track of all your bills and other financial documents is also an indicator of how good you are when it comes to managing your finances.
Remember, you should choose an organizing system that is simple and efficient enough for you so you do not have to feel that you are exerting an effort to maintain it.
It should be something that you can easily add to your routine. With these options above, I am sure you will be able to find a way to organize and file your paid bills easily.