A Guide to Paying Bills and Keeping Track of Expenses Bi-Weekly

This guide helps you organize paying bills bi-weekly using your budgeting spreadsheet. Time to use the budget and savings plans you made!

Now that you’ve created a budget and mapped out your savings plan, it’s time to put it into action by paying bills. This is a guide to using the budgeting spreadsheet to organize paying bills on a bi-weekly basis. It will help you keep track of how much your bills are each month, your bank balance after paying bills, and what areas of your budget you may be overspending in.

*This post was originally published on August 15, 2013, and updated on January 28, 2020.*

paying bills

*This post was written by my husband Jesse, the builder of our budget. This is NOT professional advice.*

So we’ve built our budget and started saving money using T accounts, now it’s time to get dirty and start paying bills! But first, we need to add two more sections to our summary spreadsheet. First, we will add a spot where we can total the bills that we are paying. In D1 put “bill” and in E1 put “Amount”. When we do the bills we will put the name of the bill we are paying and the amount so we can keep track of what we paid.

Let’s also add a total at the bottom in cell E12 and use the “sum(“ function to add up columns “E2-E11”.

paying bills

Next, let’s put a spot for “Bank Balance” and “Balance Less Bills” in cells D13 and D14. We want to program “Balance Less Bills” to show our bank balance minus the bills that we are paying. So we will use the function “=D13-D12” in cell D14 to subtract the total bills from our bank balance.

paying bills

The last section we will add is the running total of our bank balance each time we do the bills. I like to keep track of my balance every two weeks so I can see if money is going up or down! So in G1 we will add “Date” and in H1 we will add “Balance Less Bills”. Go ahead and add $900 in for the last bank balance because that is what we used for J&J in our last example.

paying bills

Finally, time for paying bills. People pay their bills in many different ways. Some people do it when they get paid every two weeks, while others do it every month. Also, people pay for groceries, gas, and other things differently. Some use cash or check, others may use credit. Each way is a little different and you have to find what method of paying bills works for you.

Personally, I do the finances every 2 weeks because it only takes 30 minutes every payday. I’d rather do that than spend an hour once a month. Additionally, we use our credit cards for expenses during the month. We’ve found that it’s easier to track plus, we get rewards points. We pay the credit card balance in full every 2 weeks when we’re paying bills and treat the same as any other bill. The only difference in the process is that we have to pay the credit card bill, whereas, with cash or a debit card, the money would already be subtracted from your bank balance.

For this example, we will assume J&J are paying bills every two weeks and use a credit card for expenses and pay them off in full. Okay, let’s get started!

Paying Bills

It’s the second Friday of the month. First, J&J check their bank balance they have $2275, which is their paychecks of $700 and $675 plus their remaining balance from the last time they paid the bills. So let’s enter that into our summary spreadsheet in cell E13. 

paying bills

And we will also enter our pay in the “actual” column on our budget.

paying bills

Next, we need to decide what bills to pay. Since we are paying bills twice a month, we should be paying around half of our monthly expenses, around $800 (which is around half of $1,625 from our budget). J&J decided to pay all of their monthly bills with this paycheck except for rent, which they will pay with the second paycheck of the month. Water, phone, student loans, cable, electricity, and trash should be around $725.

This part really depends on your household. I split our mortgage payment and save money from the first paycheck to add to the second of the month to make the mortgage payment. In the end, you have to find what works for you and your billing schedule.

J&J pay each bill and record it on the summary page. Bills can usually be paid by check or online bill pay. We find that online bill pay is easiest, but it’s about what works for you.

Water: $56.42
Phone. $148.50
Student Loans: $300.00
Cable: $49.50
Electric: $139.72
Trash: $25.00

paying bills

Now we enter the information into our budget. I don’t bother with cents because budgets are just rough outlines, missing cents doesn’t really make a difference. Of course, you can track it if you prefer.

paying bills

Next J&J review their credit card statements. Their total bill was $402.79. After reviewing their statement they found they spent around:

Grocery:  $155
Entertainment: $ 80
Gas: $125

Now, wait a minute, that only adds up to $360, where did the other $40 come from? Well, J&J’s car needed an oil change. But oil changes aren’t in the budget! This is why we only budget 90% of J&J’s income because everyone has non-recurring expenses or expenses that don’t happen every month.

So J&J pay their 402.79 credit card bill and add it to their summary.

paying bills

And they plug in what they roughly spent on groceries, entertainment, and gas.

paying bills

Next, J&J make sure they paid all the bills that are due and check for any outstanding checks in the checkbook that haven’t been cashed, of which there are none. Bills are paid for the first half of the month! Now we can allocate money that is left over. Let’s make it easy for ourselves and let the spreadsheet show us how much money we have left.

In cells, A7 and A8 put “Balance Less Bills” and “Left to Allocate”. In cell b8 put the formula “=B7-B6”. What we are doing is taking the total money that we have and subtracting the total money that we have allocated to show us how much we have left to allocate.

paying bills

Next take our “Balance Less Bills” which is in cell E13 and put it in cells B7 and H3.

What we are doing here is taking our bank balance that is left after we pay all of our bills, and moving it into the allocation columns to see how much money we have left to move around. As you can see we now have $253.07 to allocate. Now the choice is yours to allocate that money now or wait till the end of the month when all the monthly bills are paid.

We’re going to do it now! J&J decide to put:

House: $150
Emergency: $100

So let’s enter that into the T accounts on the savings tab, remember right in left out.

paying bills
paying bills

If you entered everything correctly you should now have $450 in the house fund and $500 in the emergency fund. “Cash to allocate” still has $3.07. For this example, we aren’t going to bother allocating that $3.

Now, let’s add some formulas to our budget so we can see how our spending is going. We want the difference column to show us if we are overspending or underspending at all and if we need to make adjustments to our budget. So in cell E1 enter “=C3-D3” this shows us the difference between our budgeted amount and our actual amount.

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E3 should now say $700 which is $1400 minus $700. Now let’s do the same for the rest of our columns. Tip: you can click on column D1 and click copy and then paste the formula into the rest of the cells. The formal will adjust to where you paste it.

paying bills

Next, we need to add up our actual columns by using the “=sum(“ function.

paying bills

Finally, we need to add up our Actual Total Income and Expense cells D24 and D25. Use the formulas “=D5” in D24 and “=D21+D15” in D25.

paying bills

The difference column should now show how much you have left budgeted for the remainder of the month. It looks like they overspent in grocery and entertainment, so J&J will have to take it easy the next couple of weeks. They don’t want to overspend for the whole month!

paying bills

Now we are all done paying bills for the first part of the month! This post on paying bills bi-weekly covers the second part of the month and works through some more difficult problems.

How do you pay your bills? Are you a bi-weekly person, or once a month? How long does it usually take you to do all your bills?

Need help setting up a household budget? Be sure to check out my other budgeting posts: Building A Budget and Saving Your Money

One Comment

  1. I’m a “use my credit card” person too. I have my credit card payment due a week after the first of the month and always try to pay it off the first of the month. It’s usually quite a bit at once but I keep an eye on it throughout to make sure all the money is there when it comes time to pay.

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