Lending Club Blog

Lifecycle of a Bill

To give further insight into how I handle my finances, I thought I’d document the lifecycle of a bill at my house. Here are the steps I take with nearly every bill I receive:

Service Rendered
The first step in the process is my using a product or service that generates the bill.

Bill Delivered
I check my mail each day and open all bills. The envelope and other material included with the bill are recycled.

Bill Filed
I mark the due date both in my financial tracking software and a physical calendar. The actual bill gets placed in the right side of a folder.

Bill Paid
Just before (or on) the due date, I pay the bill electronically. Most of my bills are paid with my credit card, so that I can earn rewards points. My credit card bill is paid in full each month.

I print the receipt of payment, staple it to the bill, and move it from the right to the left hand side of my bill folder. The bill is crossed off of my calendars.

Long-Term File
When a newly paid bill enters the left side of the folder, the same bill from the previous month is removed and placed in my filing cabinet. I have separate folders there for each account.

I generally keep three months’ worth of paid bills in my filing cabinet, depending on the account. So when I add a bill to the cabinet, I remove the one from 3 months prior and shred it.

My local recycling now accepts shredded office paper, so my final step is to place my shredded bills in the recycle bin.

In all, each bill spends about 5 months in my house from when it’s delivered by the USPS until the recycling company takes it away. Of that, one month is in the right side of my bill folder, one month is in the left side, and three months are in the filing cabinet. This system is thorough, but it’s easy to follow and has worked very well for me.

How are bills handled in your house?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009 at 10:11 am

Comments (3)

  1. I have found it’s a bit safer to keep one year. Then scan them into
    a PDF and shred the paper copy. Every once a while a payment
    processing issue comes up, and having the older bills handy settles
    disputes in my favor fairly quickly.

    March 31st, 2009 at 6:59 pm

  2. di:

    3 months is all you keep the old ones? We keep 7 years at least and
    have been very glad we did many times. Some things need to be
    returned, something turns out to be expensable, stuff just comes
    up. When the cc were sued over charging for foreign transaction
    fees you were allowed to claim a % or actual. Since we had
    everything for the entire window of the suit (which was more than a
    decade), we claimed actual and that was $1800. 10 year old stuff
    I’m pretty comfortable ditching, and usually it goes out at 7 if we
    don’t forget. But three months unless you are scanning it at
    least… whoa.

    April 1st, 2009 at 6:24 am

  3. I hang on to the envelopes that the bills come in–and I use them
    for grocery lists–I keep the coupons in them and write my lists
    for each store on the back of the bill envelope. Seems like a lot
    of good paper to waste. I recycle them, and the unused coupons
    after the shopping list (however, if I have extra coupons that I’m
    not using on a shopping trip, I just leave them on the product at
    the store so whomever is going to buy it can use it).

    April 1st, 2009 at 11:46 am


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