How to Keep Great Financial Records (especially for your kids’ school purchases)

Bethany Jett

Bethany Jett loves sipping coffee and jamming in her planner while raising three boys with her college sweetheart Justin.

August 24, 2020

If you’ve ever had to purchase spirit shirts, fundraiser items, or pay for a field trip, you know that there is a small risk that your check and permission slips or order forms can get lost along the way. I’ve always been nervous that the wrong size for my baby will get ordered and I won’t be able to prove what I had written down. In this post, I’m going to share a quick process on how to keep great financial records and organize your checks and order forms, particularly when it comes to your kids’ school purchases.

To avoid any unnecessary drama, I have a simple method for maintaining my own records.

Step One: Fill out the Forms

This step is pretty self-explanatory!

Step Two: Write the check (or pay online)

If paying online, you can easily keep records by saving the receipt as a PDF and e-filing it into a folder on your computer. I also print a copy and add it to the boys’ school folder so I can have it at my fingertips if needed.

Step Three: Make a copy of the check and forms

If possible, I make a copy of the check and the order form at the same time by placing the check in a blank area of the order form and laying it on the printer glass just so. If there isn’t room to have the check on the same sheet as the order form, I make a copy of the check on a different piece of paper and attach it.

I keep these files in the family folder but if you want to reduce the amount of paper used, you can also scan them to your computer and then e-file them in the school folder. This really helps keep these financial records organized!

Step Four: Record the transactions

Here’s where the Happy Planner comes into play!

For the boys’ school transactions, I have a separate sheet for each so I can keep track of how much is spent for each child as part of the education and extra-curricular process (including lunches, grade-specific supplies like the sneeze guard for my 4th grader, yearbooks, etc.).

I’m using the Budget Happy Planner found on Amazon here or JoAnn’s here (be sure to use coupons!). It’s undated, which makes it great for starting at any point in the year.

financial Happy Planner
I created pages for each child to record specific school transactions. This is the budget Happy Planner.

For non-school transactions, I have a spreadsheet where I record business payments, as well as income. I have an entire post on how to make tax time easier that includes the bonus spreadsheet template here.

Bonus Step: Create an itemized sheet

All of our boys attend the same school so when it was time to pay for spirit shirts and sweatpants, I wanted to write one check for the whole lot. However, there wasn’t a whole lot of room on the memo line to break things down.

To make it clear for the front office, I opened Pages on my Mac (Word would have worked, too), and did a cost breakdown for them, along with the names of my boys plus the check number. I included my phone number and email as well.

Everything got paper-clipped inserted into a manila envelope, and placed in my son’s backpack, ready to be sent to school the next day.

Rarely have I had to go back and check information but when school unexpectedly turned into at-home learning this past March, I was thankful I had my records, particularly for the yearbooks.

This is a similar system I use for business and I hope it helps keep you organized! If you’ve got some tips, I’d love to hear them!

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**Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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