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How Do I Organize 181 Accounts?

How exactly do I stay organized with 89 credit accounts [1], 31 bank accounts [2], 29 investment accounts [3] and 32 other accounts (not including 14 accounts for the kids [4] and numerous accounts for family members)?

That’s what readers wanted to know when I started to describe some of the details of our accounts. I’ll highlight my various strategies in a series of upcoming articles, this being the first.

I track most of the information in Microsoft Money including credit limits and account numbers. However, I have lots of doublechecks and information stored elsewhere to make the process efficient.

Bill Pay Strategies

When running a $200,000 credit card arbitrage plan [5], it’s important to keep the bills paid. Here’s some of the strategies that I use:

  • All regular bills are set up on autopay, including the mortgage.
  • I do not use ebills, but rather paper statements. Because not all the companies allow ebills it was becoming more work to track some in paper and some electronically. Therefore, I switched to all paper. It’s not environmentally friendly, but it is organizationally friendly.
  • I stack up all the bills I receive throughout the week and pay them all at once. (FIA makes it easy to pay multiple bills quickly).
  • I pay bills weekly, usually on Fridays.
  • All bills are paid with my FIA credit card to enable an extra month of float and to simplify my checking account.
  • Each credit card at 0% is paid the amount due plus $10 rounded up. (For example a $117 minimum payment becomes $130).
  • Once each bill is paid, I enter it into Microsoft Money when I get around to it.

Safety Checklist

I have a list in excel of all bills and the approximate day of the month the bill is due. I delete them as I pay them. This is not really necessary, but it’s a doublecheck to make absolutely certain that I don’t miss a due date [6] and it only takes a few extra seconds.

Here’s what this spreadsheet looks like:

Day of Month Company
Approximate Amount
Jan 1 Mortgage $3042
Jan 2 Chase 0% #1 $130
Jan 3 Electric & Gas $220
Jan 7 Cell phone $30

Anti-Filing System

Filing isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be. I used to file all my paperwork by account in neat little folders in a file cabinet. However, that started taking up too much time…. so now I just take all the papers for the the year, stuff them in a bankers box and put them in storage. I rarely have to go back and dig out papers over a year old, so it’s saved me quite a bit of time. The exception is tax papers; all of which are filed neatly by year.

Action Plan

I keep an excel spreadsheet dedicated to various aspects of my finances that don’t fit nicely into the Microsoft Money program. I’ll work on putting together more examples of the other spreadsheets that would be beneficial. In addition, see how I’ve made Microsoft Money more efficient [7] for my finances.

How do you stay organized?