During your college years, moving into your own place for the first time means assuming more responsibility. It’s your first step toward independence and tackling real-world problems without your parents present.
You may know how to do your own laundry and get to class on time, but now it’s time to tip toe one step further into the grown-up world.
Today’s lesson is how to organize bills and pay them—because you’re going to have to, whether you like it or not.
Here are six ways for students to organize bills (and a budget) every month.
1. Don’t lose them!
This seems simple enough. However, we know the drill: open the bill, stare at it in annoyance, and throw it into a pile to be dealt with later.
This sad drill is a sure-fire way to rack up late payment fees and heartache.
We recommend buying a banker box, or some sort of easy-to-carry filing cabinet, where you can store all of your bills.
2. Label your bills
After you purchase your banker box, make labels (color-coordinate) so you know exactly which bill goes where. You can either sort by the type of bill or by month. Organize bills by month, and you will know exactly what is owed each month.
If you do decide to sort by bill type, make sticky notes to indicate which ones have been paid and which ones are still due.
3. Mind your taxes
Some payments and expenses can be deducted from your taxes.
If you have regular expenses that will be tax-deductible, keep record of those payments in a specially-designated tax folder.
4. Don’t toss them
Even after you pay the amount due, keep records of all your bills on file. You should keep records for at least seven years before shredding them.
If your banker box starts bulging—don’t just throw out the old payment records—get another box.
5. Organize with your roommates
Since some bills aren’t just for you, you’ll need to decide if you to be involved in the record keeping for joint payments. If not, you can appoint one of your roommates to be the “banker” of the house.
The banker must be the most responsible roommate among you. This person tells the others what to pay and when to pay it.
Many landlords and utilities would prefer not to receive separate checks, so you’ll need to pay your banker roommate when the time comes and have them write the check.
6. Bulletin board
If you like the idea of having a banker—but want to avoid surprises—we recommend tacking a bulletin board to the wall in a common area, like the kitchen.
On this board, your banker posts all bill due dates and the amount owed.