Financial Tip of the Day, number 9: Your checkbook register is your friend. As I was thinking about how yesterday was payday for us, it occurred to me that everyone may not pay bills the way I do. Here is the most basic tip I have: log your checks, deposits, withdrawals, fees, etc in your checkbook register.
Here is my routine:
Log onto the bank website and make sure I have recorded everything that has already cleared my account. For those new to budgeting, there is a tiny column you put a checkmark in when your item has cleared the bank.
- Next record your paycheck (deposit it if it isn’t automatic).
- Write and record your tithe check. Put it in your Bible for Sunday.
- Write checks for all bills due before next payday.
- Be sure to record any automatic payments scheduled before next paycheck too. (Doing this on payday ensures you don’t forget to pay something). Ideally, you want to arrange your payment due dates to where your bills are as equally divided throughout the month as possible. If all your bills are due around the same date of the month, say the 1st, you must not spend the money out of the other paychecks so that it is there plus your paycheck on the first to cover all your bills.
- Don’t forget the non-recurring payments like insurance paid yearly, driver’s license renewal, or dental exams. Have what will be coming due for the next 30 days on your radar. While you may feel you have extra cash on hand this paycheck after bills are paid and want to go on a shopping spree, your 30 day radar may show you that extra has somewhere more important to go. The accountant side of me calls this my personal cash flow (which is related to, but not the same as, a budget). You can do the 30 day radar even if you don’t have a good working budget.
You will need to do this each month, first thing, before you begin spending. If you have variable income, you have to be even more diligent to record and pay your bill when the money is there and save any extra for bills down the road. It is trickier to manage, but it can be done.
Your challenge today is to do steps 1-6 above for your own checkbook. I know, it seems hard, but you can do it! Stay tuned for the next financial tip in our top ten series.
She is free… to harness her finances and be an amazing steward for God!