Organize Your Finances with a Bill Pay Checklist

Bill Pay Checklist saved in Google Drive

For the last 9 years I’ve used a Google SpreadsheetMint Overview called McBryde Bill Pay Checklist to keep track of our recurring bills and help manage our finances. Every time either my wife or I get paid, I open this spreadsheet, pay the bills that are due between that day and the next pay day, and mark it on this list. I also add those transactions to a free online tool from Intuit called Mint (https://www.mint.com). All of our financial accounts are connected to this tool so I can easily track checking account balances, remaining mortgage debt, retirement accounts, etc. as well as create goals and budgets. It’s very simple to use and available on any computer with an internet connection which is way better in my opinion than the old Quicken software I used to use that was only on one computer.

But back to the Bill Pay Checklist. Here’s how to use it.

  1. Download this Excel file: Bill Pay Checklist 2016
  2. If you like to use Google Drive, upload the file to your Drive and convert it to a Google Spreadsheet. This way you can access it from multiple computers.
  3. Add all of your recurring expenses to the spreadsheet sorted by due date.
  4. If you want to get fancy, color code the expenses by charitable giving, retirement, savings, utilities or whatnot.
  5. Use it every time you get paid.
  6. Each year start a new sheet and adjust as needed.

Practice this discipline over time and it becomes second nature.

This is not super complex and has been an essential tool in managing our finances. I hope it helps you, too!

Advent devotional: Love

My son Nash was born in Sept 2009
Holding my newborn son Nash – Sept 2009

Ever since my son Nash was born I’ve learned a lot about love…especially a Father’s love. For those of you who don’t know my son, he the 6 year old boy that fills up my Instagram feed. I’m seriously obsessed with him. I love Nash like nothing or no one I’ve ever loved before. I think my love for him is unique or set apart because I made him. He’s mine. Ok. So Ines may have had something to do with that, too, but you get my point. Ever since he was born, I’ve always wondered, “Is this what God feels when He looks at me?” This overwhelming intense love. I think it is.

God created us to be loved by Him, to love Him back, and to show His love to others. And God’s intense love for us isn’t trapped far far away from us in heaven. Love came near to us. His name is Immanuel.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. ~ Isaiah 7:14

Immanuel – God is with us.

You see? Love is active. God didn’t love us from afar. No! He sent His son to love us up close. Each of us has a great need to be loved. Each of us has a great responsibility to love others. You are giving it or receiving it. Love is active.

And this love…it requires something if you.

My son Nash spells love “T-I-M-E.” Almost daily when we get home from school, he asks me, “Daddy, will you play with me?” Sometimes I don’t want to play, and I tell him I love him, but daddy’s busy. His face falls. My words are lost on him. Words without action. Empty.

Love is active!

When I have a proper view of love, I act as soon as he asks me to play. I show him that I SEE him. That he is treasured. That he matters. That I am always there for him and will never abandon him. The way God loves me. So am I to love my son.

Sometimes love is spelled “food” or “washing dishes” or “listening” or “embracing.” Consider the many ways to display or show your love for others.

God showed love for us by sending his one and only son to save us from sin. There are no boundaries or limitations to the love God has for us. We are made in His image. Let’s look for opportunities to love others without limits. Be extreme in your pursuit of loving others. They need your love. You need their love. If we all lived this way, all of our needs would be met. It would be like God’s Kingdom on earth.

By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” ~ John 7:35

I made up a somewhat corny acronym for this concept. L-O-V-E –

Look for Opportunities to Value Everyone

There is someone in your life who desperately needs to know that YOU love them. We are created in His image so that our love of others reflects God’s love to others. Who are you loving? Have you told them?! The love of God is at your fingertips to bless those around you. It’s powerful and life-giving.

Summary
God created us, and He loves His creation. We are created in His image so within us is a reflection of that love. Love is active. God’s love in action: Immanuel “God with us.” We are to show that love to others. When we do, people will see God in us.

2015-09-27 17.47.56

$14 DIY cargo shelf for Chevy Trailblazer

Lately I’ve been yearning for the great outdoors and looking for ways to improve the car camping experience in my 2002 Chevy Trailblazer EXT. I’ve slept in the back with an air mattress a few times which has been ok, but the most rear section has a 3″ drop that makes the mattress slope down beneath your knees and feet. Not optimal.

I have seen a few OEM cargo shelfs like the one below on eBay, but they cost $80-100 which didn’t seem worth the expense.

2002 Chevrolet TrailBlazer EXT. (X03CT_TX02)

Doesn’t she look so happy with her removable cargo shelf? I want to experience that level of happiness, but without dropping $100 for an accessory for my 13 year old SUV.

I surveyed the situation today and took some measurements before heading over to Lowe’s with the mission to spend as little as possible while keeping the construction as simple as possible.

The Trailblazer EXT has built-in slots to hold the removable shelf. The shelf can be installed in an upper and lower location. The purpose of the lower location is to provide a nearly level cargo area when all the seats are laying flat. This will solve that sloping mattress issue.2015-09-27 15.23.11

The slot is 1″ deep so I was thinking a 1″ thick board would do the trick. I later realized that a “one inch” board is actually only 3/4″ thick. Close enough!2015-09-27 15.19.41

The depth of the shelf slot is 14 3/16″ so my goal depth for the shelf was 14″. 2015-09-27 15.19.12

The height of the lower shelf position from the floor is 3 1/16″ so I needed to create supports so that my shelf wouldn’t buckle under the weight of an air mattress with 1 or 2 people sleeping on it. I figure 3″ would do which is the thickness of two 2x4s.2015-09-27 15.20.11

After looking at the options available to create a shelf that is 14″ deep, I opted for a 1x8x10. A 1×8 board is actually 7 1/2″ wide so two of them side by side will be 15″ wide which is fine after cutting a 1/4″x1″ notch in each end of one of the boards.2015-09-27 16.03.45

Lowe’s is always happy to make a few cuts for you so I had the board cut into two 49″ pieces.2015-09-27 16.07.37

Luckily my neighbor Eric had some scrap 2×4’s to construct the 3″ high supports for when the shelf is in the lower location and needs to support more *ahem* weight.2015-09-27 17.21.08

We attached the supports 13″ from the ends to keep the supports from resting on a storage compartment in the floor of the Trailblazer.2015-09-27 17.25.10

Eric used a grinder to cut off the ends to the screws so there aren’t any dangerous pointy parts on the bottom of the shelf. Thanks, Eric!2015-09-27 17.30.18

Our 1/4″ x 1″ notch works perfectly!2015-09-27 17.32.20

Cargo shelf installed in the lower location with seats down ready to receive an air mattress:2015-09-27 17.45.58

Cargo shelf installed in the upper location with seats up ready to receive groceries or whatever: 2015-09-27 17.47.28

Another benefit of this shelf in the upper location with seats up is added security for items stowed underneath.2015-09-27 17.47.56 2015-09-27 17.48.29 2015-09-27 17.48.55

Materials:

  • one 1x8x10 ($14)
  • two 14″ pieces of 2×4 ($0)
  • two 4″ pieces of 2×4 ($0)
  • twelve 2″ wood screws

Tools:

  • radial saw
  • drill
  • grinder (optional if you have shorter screws)

Next steps:

  • wrap in industrial carpet (hopefully scrap piece at no cost)
  • sand and paint any exposed wood surfaces

Birthday Karaoke at Khahlil’s Pub

A group of friends celebrated my birthday last week by going to karaoke at Khalil’s Pub. It was a blast.

Michael Hall and I are available for birthday parties and weddings.

Some other gems can be found here, here, and here:

Apparently Earl had to die. #41isthenewwhatever #karaoke @katiestalcup @lannonshafferty @dani_white

A video posted by Rob McBryde (@robmcbryde) on

Shawty got low- @dani_white @lannonshafferty @inesmcbryde #41isthenewwhatever #karaoke

A video posted by Rob McBryde (@robmcbryde) on

My sister and @lannonshafferty rawk! #41isthenewwhatever #karaoke

A video posted by Rob McBryde (@robmcbryde) on