bill organization

Looking for a bill organization system? I've got much more than that for you, and it's practically automated, to boot.

In December I gave myself the best {free} present ever: the gift of a system. It doesn’t sound glamorous and did not come with a big bow. But trust me when I say it was the best gift ever.

I’ve been blogging since 2009, mainly as a hobby. Side income was a nice benefit (and didn’t come until two years in), but I didn’t formally track it. I kept receipts in a box for tax season, and at the end of each year I went through my PayPal ledger line-by-line to add up my income.

Tedious, I know. Even worse is that it was completely un-scalable.

When I knew that I wanted to quit my day job and work on Frugal Confessions full time, I began to track my income and expenses. Except that it was entirely manual, in an excel sheet. Each month I would sift through my PayPal account, sign into a hand full of other accounts, and assemble the information. It was good to see everything categorized, but the method took up precious time I could have been using to build the business, or to take a break.

I knew I needed to make a change, but it seemed like it was going to be an overwhelming and difficult task.

It turns out, I was completely wrong.

After formally separating my business finances by opening a new business checking and savings, I settled on the free program called GoDaddy Bookkeeping. It took me just an hour or so to set everything up. Once I had each of my accounts rerouted and associated to this program, keeping track of everything became ridiculously easy. Whenever I deposit a check into my business account, receive a payment in PayPal, or purchase something for my business, it automatically gets accounted for and calculated. I can quickly see profits and expenses. It’s amazing!

It’s been so awesome, in fact, that I want you to give yourself the same gift with your personal finances.

Why You Need Financial Systems in Your Life

We live in an account-heavy society. I can’t count the number of passwords and usernames I have to remember on both of my hands (you could probably throw in my feet as well). Keeping track of everything and getting a grasp on the big picture is difficult. But it doesn’t have to be.

Can you imagine the following:

  • Signing into one account with one username and one password to deal with your finances?
  • Aggregating all of your investments and having someone else automatically tally the fees you are paying each year (not to mention give you a breakdown of what the heck your Target Funds are invested in)?

All you have to do is set up 2 financial system, associate accounts, and reap the time/energy savings all year long. Did I mention that these systems are free? Seriously.

Set Up Once, Love it Forever

I want you to set up 2 financial systems today, the same that I have set up for our finances (you’ll quickly understand why we love these two systems).

Time Disclaimer: I know you’re pinched for time, but this will allow you to work smarter, not harder. And the time benefit will be reaped for years to come. So take the time to do this over a sitcom, during lunch, or whenever you can find about an hour. Remember, it’s truly a gift you are giving to yourself and to your family.

The 2 Financial Systems

Financial System #1: Organize your Investments, Pronto

Personal Capital: Signing up for this free service will aggregate any and all investments you have, whether they are in IRAs, a brokerage firm, mutual funds, pensions, 401(K), etc. You will be able to track your net worth, see a clear breakdown of what you are invested in (even if you have target funds), and will quickly see how much you are paying per year in fees. Priceless information! Did I mention once it's all in the system, you don't have to do anything else?

Here's a screenshot from our actual investments. How would I have ever known I was paying $116.48/year across all our investment accounts without this system? I mean, I guess I could have gone to each account individually and figured it out. But poof! It's done for me.

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Hover your cursor over your asset allocation, and it tells you the exact money and 1-day change in percentage for each category (um, awesome!). Talk about feeling like you have a better handle on your investments.

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Financial System #2: Get a Pulse on your Spending + Bills Automatically

Mint.com and YNAB.com: I've been asked before whether or not I think someone should use YNAB.com, or Mint.com. The answer? It doesn't matter. Choose one, and stick with it. All you need to do is associate each of your accounts one time to one of these management systems. Then you take your spending max's and plug them in (such as, “$300 for food”. As you spend during the month, the system automatically adds your spending to each of the categories and alerts you how much you have left to spend. Or if you're going to go over in, say, entertainment. It's brilliant.

There's lots more these two systems can do, but I think it's best to not overwhelm you and just get you started + associating your accounts so you can see them pull in all that data automatically. Oooohhhh it's nice.

I hope that you are as excited about these two financial systems as I am. Take the time to set up each (time being spent in the beginning), and reap the time savings for years to come. Not only that, but get your hands on the kind of knowledge about your personal investments + spending that you'd have to pay a financial advisor to do for you.

14 replies
  1. Lowell
    Lowell says:

    Hi Amanda! This is my first comment, but I follow your RSS feed 🙂

    I live in Canada and, while there are similar sites available here, not too long ago I read an article where services such as these may violate your bank’s policies. Providing your account information and password may even void the online transaction protection provided by your bank. This may be unique to Canada, but I would check the fine print of your banking agreement(s) before signing up.

    Thanks, and keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • FruGal
      FruGal says:

      Hello Lowell!

      Thanks for your comment. I haven’t heard of that here, but it could be worth looking into.

      By the way, we’ve got an arctic chill down here…then I was thinking, how cold must it be in Canada? What kinds of temperatures are you guys seeing?

      Reply
      • Lowell
        Lowell says:

        We have actually been well above freezing with rain for more than a week now. It’s going to be murder once winder “comes back” lol!

        Reply
  2. Kristina
    Kristina says:

    What kind of guarantees are there that it is secure? This is my concern with having all of my information in one place.

    Reply
    • Amanda L Grossman
      Amanda L Grossman says:

      Great question, Kristina!

      Here is what I could find for you from their websites:

      Personal Capital: “Multi-factor authentication requires you to personally approve the device you use to access Personal Capital. We use military-grade encrypted algorithms and make it easy for you to spot transactions that are out of the ordinary.”

      Manilla: To ensure that your account is always secure, Manilla uses multiple levels of physical security including biometric validation as well as AES 256-bit encryption. Our practices are monitored and verified by TRUSTe, Verisign, Tinfoil and other security agencies. With Manilla online statement manager, your personal data and documents are encrypted and stored on dedicated servers in secure data facilities with 24/7 security and biometric controls.”

      Reply
  3. Bryce @ Save and Conquer
    Bryce @ Save and Conquer says:

    I hadn’t heard of Manilla before. I will give it a look. Our bill paying is already pretty easy, though, with a few on auto-pay, and others, like credit cards, that send me an email weeks before they are due.

    I keep track of my investments from all accounts, as well as net worth using Full View that is a service from Fidelity Investments. So I don’t really have a need for Personal Capital.

    Reply
  4. Jack @ Enwealthen
    Jack @ Enwealthen says:

    I’ve heard good things about Manila, Mint, and Personal Capital, and of course Quickbooks.

    I’m old school, in that I still don’t trust web services (perhaps because I do Internet for a living and know all the skeletons and all the closets). Or at least not with my money. I still manage my finances on my computer, offline, with lots of encryption and other security measures in place.

    Reply
  5. Natilya James
    Natilya James says:

    It is always better to set your retirement planning target. Before you choose your pension plan, you should estimate that how much money you would need to maintain your lifestyle once you are retired from your job. Also, you must try to convert at least seventy per cent of your pension funds to income.

    Reply
  6. Caleb
    Caleb says:

    Having structure with your spending and saving is essential for your financial well-being. Systems like these could be very beneficial in tracking your spending, saving and planning.

    Reply

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