Pinterest Project: Organizing Your Month (& Year!) with a Tickler File

If you are anything like me, you are always afraid of forgetting about one of the bills sitting on your kitchen table and having to pay a late fee. This little project has made bill-worry virtually disappear. Not only will your worry disappear, but if anything were to happen to you and someone else needed to pay the bills for a while, this system is easy to understand and allows them to take over the job pretty seamlessly.

Now, I've very rarely forgotten to pay a bill. I once forgot to pay our cell phone bill, simply because they had changed the due date and I hadn't noticed. However, even though I rarely forget, I often have those freak-out moments, when I see a bill sitting on my table and think, "Oh, NO! When was that due?!". Although, that certainly is a reminder to pay something, I didn't like feeling that wave of stress every time I walked into the kitchen.

You may be wondering why I don't just pay my bills when they come to my door. Well, my friends, we are on a rather crummy, get paid on the last day of the month system . So, if I have a bill due on the 10th of the next month and it gets to me on the 20th, I need to wait to send in that check, so that I know there will be plenty of money in our account when the check goes through.

Anyway.... on to how a funny-named organizing system has saved me from waves of bill-paying and birthday-card-sending terror.

Photo Credit: Simplify 101 - Creative Organizing Blog

I originally learned about the tickler file system from Simplify 101. One of the writers explains what a Tickler system is and how it works. And I seriously wish mine looked as pretty as hers, but do you know how much those decorative file folders cost?? Crazy expensive.

If you're like T and need to know the history of everything, EVER :), then you can hop on over to the Wikipedia page on Tickler Files. (There are no sources though, so take it for what it is.)

The system consists of 43 folders. 31 folders for days and 12 folders for months of the year.

Now, you're 31 day folders will always reflect the current month. Any items which require future attention (out of the span of the month) will go in the appropriate month folder.

Each day you check that day's folder for items. Once the items are dealt with (or if there are no items) you simply place the folder at the back, leaving the next day's folder in front. I choose to keep my days in front, and my month folders behind those.

Below is a photo of my system. Eventually, it will hang on the wall in our kitchen.

Not as pretty, but functional. I also like to keep my bill paying things handy, so, I leave my stamps and such in here.

Now when I get a bill, I simply drop it into the right day or month folder and forget about it.

Of course, this system won't work if you forget to check it. That's why I'm choosing to put it in our kitchen.

Here's an example of a day folder:

This is the folder for the 25th of August.

In the 25th folder I have a Save-The-Date and Bridal Shower invite for my cousin's wedding. We won't be able to attend, but I threw these in there to remind me to send a gift before the big day.

Sometimes I pay bills online, or have monthly occurrences which don't have handy papers to remind me. In this case, I typed out little notes to leave in folders. Some examples could be notes that tell you to:

  • Pay rent, or mortgage
  • Pay an online bill
  • Organize next month's items into folders
  • Complete monthly paperwork
Or they could even be things like this:

  • Wash the car
  • Return library books
  • Change the sheets on your bed
The possibilities are pretty endless, here! Anything that you want to make a reminder for, you can simply add to the appropriate folder. 

Your month folders hold items for future events. Once the next month rolls around, you'll want to organize that month's items into the appropriate day folders.

This is September's folder.

So, my September folder currently holds some paperwork and tickets to a soccer game. In the 28th folder, for August, I have  little note that tells me to organize next month's items into the day folders to get ready for September. I would organize the all the items and then put my September folder at the back of the file holder.

So far, this system has worked really well for me. I love not having to worry about whether I payed a bill or not!

Plus, now when I buy Birthday cards early, they have a place to go and won't get lost in the shuffle.

Some Extra Tips:

  • I know some people like to keep another folder for items you may not have finished that day, or need to put on hold. I think you could just as easily move the items to another day, but you might find this 44th folder works for you.
  • I give myself 10 days for bill pay cushion. That way, if I did forget to check that day's folder, I would still have plenty of time to get it in the mail.
  • You could also come up with cuter more creative ways to store these files. I saw a photo of one that was in a tall narrow wicker basket. Very neat idea.
  • If you really don't want to make a tickler system yourself, you can always buy a pre-made one. I've seen several different types on

Happy Organizing!

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