Paper Organization : How Long Should I Keep It + Free Printable

 

HOW LONG TO KEEP IT - Clean Mama

If you are anything like the average person you might struggle with paper organization and you probably have a stash somewhere in your home of random papers, receipts and forms. Flipping through them is a bit like an archeological dig as it provides a snapshot of your life in the form of a pile. Plenty of people live in fear that they will accidentally toss or shred something important so the stash, piles and files get bigger and thicker with time.

I am here to help you go through your papers once and for all and to help you designate just what you need to file and what you can shred or recycle. If you are looking for a method to keep all those papers organized once you have gone through them, I recommend looking here for the process I used when I set up our grown up filing system.

If you are starting this process with no filing system to speak of, I recommend investing in some file folders so that you have somewhere to put the papers when you are done with them. Begin by deciding just what you need for categories and individual files. This may vary from person to person depending upon your family structure, finances and other variables. You can choose to color code the files- red for medical, green for finance etc.- or  you can use file folders you may already have. These categories are intended to be idea starters and are by no means conclusive, so feel free to adjust or retitle so that it fits your needs.

Important Documents:

  • birth certificate
  • marriage certificate
  • social security card
  • passports
  • power of attorney

Finance:

  • retirement and 410K
  • checking
  • savings
  • loans
  • tax documents
  • insurance
  • credit card information

Medical:

  • insurance
  • bills/receipts
  • coverage documents
  • HSA/FSA

Vehicles:

  • title, loan, or lease documents
  • insurance
  • maintenance

Education:

  • transcripts
  • individual child education folders
  • diplomas

Lifestyle:

  • childcare
  • clubs
  • travel
  • family history

Print out this free printable and keep it handy with your filing system as you go through your piles and files. Enjoy the satisfaction that an organized filing system brings.

Go here to download your FREE How Long Should I Keep It Printable!

How Long Should I Keep It? Infographic via Clean Mama

 

How to Set Up a Filing and Budget System that Really Works

How to Set Up a Filing and Budget System that Really Works via Clean Mama

I’ve had so many requests for an update of my budget system and I finally have one for you today, just in time for the new year!  I have implemented a number of budget systems over the past few years and have lots of ideas for what works and what doesn’t.  There are a couple musts to make a budget system work and lots of ways to get to it to work for you.

Here are the MUSTS:

  • PLACE to keep, pay, and file bills – this can be in an office, a portable file cabinet, or a basket.  The location doesn’t have to be in the same place, but it can be, make it work for you.
  • TRACK your bills and payments – this can be as simple as a check register or as in-depth as a whole budget notebook.
  • ROUTINE – put budget and bill paying into your routine so it isn’t overwhelming.  I find that opening and filing bills daily and paying/tracking bills on Fridays is really helpful.

Here’s how I set up my filing and budget system – I hope it helps you get started!

Budget System via Clean Mama

I keep budget and bill paying supplies and records in my office.  I have a couple pieces of furniture and accessories that I love and I believe function really well for me, but you can choose different solutions or use what you have to accomplish the same thing.  (If you’re trying to get your budget in order the last thing you want to do is spend more money, right?)

FILING SYSTEM – here’s how I set mine up.  Depending on what you have that needs to be filed this can take minutes or days.  NOW is the time to get moving on this, it’s so much easier to start with the new year.

File Folders via Clean Mama

WALL SYSTEM – I purchased this wall system from Pottery Barn and I love it.  I have tried a couple other systems and found that this works the best for my office.  The components can be arranged to meet your needs and they get those papers that need to be dealt with in plain view.  I have 4 pockets with 4 different categories:

Wall Pocket Categories via Clean Mama

  • TO PAY – this is where I put bills that need to get paid during the CURRENT month.  I use a clothes pin to keep them all together and so I can quickly grab them when I sit down to pay bills.
  • TO FILE – these are bills and papers that need to find a home in the filing system.  I gather these for a month and then shred what can be shredded and file the rest.
  • IN PROCESS – these are bills that I might need at a moment’s notice – something for my business, important financial papers, things that are currently going on.  For instance, if you are re-financing your home you would keep all those pay stubs and other papers in this pocket until the deal is done.  Then file or shred.
  • CLEAN MAMA (BUSINESS) – I keep current contracts and other important papers here.  When I don’t need to access them anymore, they get filed.

BUDGET + BILL PAYING TRACKERS and PRINTABLES – This is my SECRET to staying on top of the bills, getting the bills paid on time, and getting rid of debt.  Having all the information handy in my homekeeping notebook is the key – I can take a peek and see if I paid the electric bill or what the balance is on an account.

Budget Worksheet and Bill and Payment Checklist via Clean Mama

Yes, I do online bill pay, but this system works in tandem with online bill paying.  I love it and my hubby does too – it’s great for accountability and all the bills, payments, and balances can be seen at a glance.  I have a few different budget kits in my shop, but I am currently using the Everyday Budget + Bill Pay Kit.  You can see all my printables in my shop here.

DESK – bill get paid and filed here.  I can do both from my chair and having everything at an arm’s reach make bill paying and filing easy and as enjoyable as possible.  This is the desk and file cabinet I have – I love the proportions and size.

Desk for Bill Paying via Clean Mama

With a PLACE to organize and pay bills, a system to TRACK bills paid, and a ROUTINE in place, you can definitely get your budget in order for 2015!  If you need some help getting your paper piles under control, you’ll appreciate this post: 8 Ways to Get a Handle on Paper Clutter.  What’s your biggest budget dilemma?

8 Ways to Get a Handle on Paper Clutter

8 Ways to Get a Handle on Paper Clutter via Clean Mama

Paper seems to be most people’s biggest organizational struggle and it’s with good reason.  If it isn’t dealt with daily or weekly, it can get out of hand in a hurry.  I’ve covered a lot of ground in the paper department in the past, so I thought a little round-up of sorts would be a fun way to inspire you to do a little paper organizing this week.  My challenge to you would be to choose just one thing to do this week – it might be one of these topics and it might be something else, but SORT some paper for at least 10 minutes.

  1. Not sure what to keep and what to toss?  Try this FREE printable to get you started.
  2. Want to convert your file box or accordion file into a grown up file cabinet?  Check out this post (there’s a free printable here too!).
  3. Get a paper shredder.  And use it.
  4. Deal with your mail daily.  The ‘clutter’ task on the free cleaning and organizing calendar relates to de-cluttering every day and for me, that means a couple things, but mail is big.  I sort/toss/file mail every single day.  Here’s how I keep it off counters.
  5. Feel like you need to keep papers and lists in one place?  Try a homekeeping planner or binder – my favorite method of organizing paper.  This post shows how I set up a filing and budget/bill paying system.
  6. Wall calendars and planners are great ways to keep dates and appointments straight.  Using one that works for you is the only way this will work – otherwise it’ll just be more paper.
  7. For me keeping the kitchen counters clear is the number one clutter busting trick I have.  See how I do it here.
  8. Go paperless or paper-less.  I’m definitely more of a paper-LESS person – I will never go completely digital.   I love pens, paper, notebooks, planners, and all things office supply related.  I do paperless billing when I can and online banking, but I still write down all my bill paying in my homekeeping planner.  I don’t do a digital calendar or planner – I write it down on the wall calendar and in my homekeeping planner.  There’s something about the pen to paper that makes sense for me and is more conducive to how I’m wired.  Here are a couple ideas for paperless or paper-less living (I am not an affiliate for any of these, just putting the info out there:
  • Evernote – a way to digitally remember everything
  • Doxie Mobile Scanners – great for small items like receipts and checks
  • Neat – digital scanning and cloud storage
  • Want to send cards and invitations digitally?  Paperless Post is adorable and they have a free section too.
  • Digital photo storage?  I’m sure that this is another post, but I use Shutterfly and DropBox, but there are lots of options out there for slimming down the picture stacks.
  • How about pdfs and printables?  I store those on Dropbox too.  Did you know that if you have a tablet, like an iPad you can use printables paperless with an app like Notability that lets you digitally write on your pdfs and take notes with you anywhere?  If you have a Kindle or Android you can use Note Everything for similar results.

8 Ways to Get a Handle on Paper Clutter for Good via Clean Mama

What’s your best tip for keeping paper clutter away?  Share it in the comments!

 

 

 

Practical Ways to Get Rid of Paper Clutter

Practical Ways to Eliminate Paper Clutter via Clean Mama

This week’s focus is paper clutter and hopefully you’ve filed or shredded something this week.  On Wednesday I talked about a few simple solutions to eliminate paper clutter.  Today we’re going to talk about practical ways to actually set that in motion.  All the internet inspiration in the world isn’t going to file those papers or shred those old bills you have stacked up.  What it really takes is you, a lot of time (not going to lie), a lot more motivation and a little bit of inspiration.  So today I have a couple additional things that you can do to keep the paper away for good.  Do one thing or all of them and you’ll be a little closer to getting rid of that paper.  Ready?

  • Get a shredder (I’ve mentioned it in every post this week, but I’ll mention it again.)
  • Get a file cabinet, or file box, or an accordion file.  Something, anything will help!
  • Get rid of unwanted mail.  There’s a free app called PaperKarma – scan your unwanted mail, they contact the sender, and presto!  The mail is gone.  TrustediD is another one that gets rid of unsolicited magazines and junk mail (for free).  If you’re sick of getting those pre-screened credit offers you can go to OptOutPreScreen to get off that list.

Want to go paperless or paper-less?  I’m more of a paper-LESS person – I will never go completely digital.   I love pens, paper, notebooks, planners, and all things office supply related.  I do paperless billing when I can and online banking, but I still write down all my bill paying in my homekeeping planner.  I don’t do a digital calendar or planner – I write it down on the wall calendar and in my homekeeping planner.  There’s something about the pen to paper that makes sense for me and is more conducive to how I’m wired.  Cleaning tasks?  They go in the cleaning section in my homekeeping planner.  You can see what I use by going to my shop here.

Here are a couple more options and ideas for paperless or paper-less living (I am not an affiliate for any of these, just putting the info out there):

  • Evernote – a way to digitally remember everything
  • Doxie Mobile Scanners – great for small items like receipts and checks
  • Neat – digital scanning and cloud storage
  • Want to send cards and invitations digitally?  Paperless Post is adorable and they have a free section too.
  • Digital photo storage?  I’m sure that this is another post, but I use Shutterfly and DropBox, but there are lots of options out there for slimming down the picture stacks.
  • How about pdfs and printables?  I store those on Dropbox too.  Did you know that if you have a tablet, like an iPad you can use printables paperless with an app like Notability that lets you digitally write on your pdfs and take notes with you anywhere?  If you have a Kindle or Android you can use Note Everything or Springpad for similar results.

Any other ideas to add?  Leave them in the comments!

 

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Simple Solutions to Eliminate Paper Clutter

Simple Solutions to Eliminate Paper Clutter via Clean Mama

This week our focus is on paper and paper clutter.  On Monday I suggested that you concentrate on 5 main areas to get started in the big paper purge:

  • shred
  • clear your counters
  • deal with your mail daily
  • get a filing system
  • get others involved

I know that one week isn’t nearly enough time to focus on paper for some of us, but with clutter being a daily task, my hope is that you work on that if you need to as often as you need to, until you’ve accomplished your paper goals.

Today I’d like to show you a few simple ways I’ve eliminated paper clutter in our home with the hope that it gives you some simple strategies and practical solutions that you can put into place or change to meet your needs.

Paper-less Office Organization via Clean Mama

We have a multi-purpose office.  This is my ‘office’ section of the office, we also have an elliptical machine, tv, and an organizer in here too.  I love how this little section is organized – it works great for me.  I went from a desk about three times this size to this smaller one and I love that it forces me to keep it organized and tidy.  I’ve labeled the different sections so you can see how I’ve squeezed things in and organized.  I’ve done posts on some of them before – you can click on the links below for more specifics.

Keep Your Paper Shredder Accessible via Clean Mama

Keep your shredder accessible (if you have little kids keep it unplugged for safety reasons).  Put it in an office or place where you’re sorting and filing to keep the paper piles away.

Hidden Paper Storage via Clean Mama

On the other side of my desk is this storage unit from Costco.  The top four rows are for the kids and the bottom row is business and blog storage bins are for me.  Each of my cuties gets their own bin with a clipboard, supplies (stored in a metal cup to keep it contained and so they can grab it and bring it into the kitchen when it’s homework time), and books or binders for school.  I have a large backpack basket next to the homework bins to keep everything accessible for the kids.

Stop Paper Clutter - Create a Space to Drop Items via Clean Mama

Paper clutter starts in the kitchen (or at least it does in my house).  Create a space or place to drop items to keep them off the counters.  A small organizer to contain simple items and charge phones or other electronics is helpful.  If you are old school like me and still like having phone numbers out by your phone, keep them in a rolodex or address book.  Use a small decorative container to drop your keys, chapstick, and other small items that would otherwise be scattered on your counters.

Magazine Storage via Clean Mama

I’m a big fan of hidden and sneaky storage.  If you’re a magazine and catalog junkie like me, keep them in a basket or bin.  Limit yourself to keeping the magazines in the basket and when it’s full, recycle what you’re done with and keep those magazines off counters and couches and in a special place.

How are you doing with this week’s focus?  Making some progress?  Have a challenge you need some help on?  Ask away!

Sources:

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Start Here. Week 3 – Paper

It’s week three of Start Here. – I hope you’re still feeling motivated and like you can do this – because you totally can!  If you didn’t see the first post and grab the free printable, go back to the post for the full overview and explanation here. If you want to follow along on Instagram or post your own progress, I’d love it if you used the hash tag #cmstarthere

Start Here.  Cleaning + Organizing Calendar Infographic via Clean Mama

This week the focus is on PAPER.  Anyone else struggle with paper clutter?  I know I do.  Paper clutter is the reason I have clutter on the daily calendar, I need to deal with it on a daily basis to keep it away for good.  And you know what?  That’s what works for me.  Deal with it daily, and don’t let it pile up.  Today I’m going to offer up a little paper challenge for the week. It’s simple and my hope is that it helps you get started on muddling through your paper clutter, going paperless, or just clearing off your counter tops.  5 Steps – tackle them all at once or over the course of the next 5 Days – are you ready?

How to Get Rid of Paper Clutter in Just 5 Steps via Clean Mama

  1. SHRED – Buy a good shredder or find a place to shred your documents on a regular basis.  Some banks offer this service monthly.  We just upgraded our shredder to this one and it’s amazing how much of a difference a higher quality shredder makes.  It can cut through the piles in record time.  And just so you don’t think that I’ve completely got my act together with paper clutter, my husband found some old papers of mine circa 1993.  We’ve/he’s been on a shredding tare and we’ve/he shredded bags (yes bags) of papers.  That’s all I’m going to say about that.  They’re gone and I used this free printable to figure out what to save and what to keep.
  2. CLEAR YOUR COUNTERS – Take a bag and put any clutter from your counters straight in it.  Wipe down your counters and look at how nice it looks to have all that paper and those piles off the counters.  Did you notice that I have both COUNTERS and CLUTTER on my daily task list (see freebie link at the bottom of this post) every.single.day.  Why?  Because I have to make a concerted effort to deal with it every day or it takes over.  And if you’re like me, clutter makes me crabby.  So it’s better to not have it hanging around to keep the crabby away.  Okay, back to the bag – empty it, deal with it, shred, toss, file.
  3. DEAL WITH YOUR MAIL DAILY – Open, toss, pay the bills, shred, or put them in a file.  If you love magazines (I do!), make sure that they go in a basket or on a shelf where you’ll access them.  Take a couple minutes this week to weed through any magazines you don’t need to hang out any longer.
  4. GET A FILING SYSTEM – If you can go paperless with your bills and financial statements, I strongly urge you to – it makes a huge difference.  I’ve converted what we can to paperless, but we still have bills and other papers that need to be filed.  Get a box and some folders or go all out and get a filing cabinet.  Create a system that makes sense for how you deal with important papers.  You can see how I converted my file box into a grown-up file cabinet here.
  5. GET OTHERS INVOLVED – Figure out systems for the rest of your family.  My kids bring home piles of paper daily.  I have a system that works for them and me – we deal with the paper every day after school, important or special papers and artwork are filed, most papers and worksheets get tossed, and any permission slips are signed and sent back the next day.

I’ll be back on Wednesday with pictures of how I specifically deal with each of these areas in my house – in the meantime, tell us your most annoying paper clutter dilemma or spot in your house and what you’ve done to correct it or maybe you’re completely stumped – share away!

Want to join in on the fun? Grab a FREE cleaning and organizing calendar for January and give it a go. Follow along all month for motivational posts and tips to keep up with the daily and weekly tasks.

Cleaning + Organizing Calendar January 2014 via Clean MamaGo here to grab your FREE calendar for January 2014!

Want to make 2014 the year that you cleaned and organized everything? Me too!

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(If you like the calendar style of this freebie, you’ll love The Simplified Life Series in my shop!)

 

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How Long Should I Keep It For? FREE Printable

I’m knee deep in receipts and paper piles this week while I’m tackling a major filing cabinet makeover.  Translation:  I am going from accordion files to a grown up file cabinet.  My biggest struggle has been trying to decide how long to keep some of this stuff.  I’ve operated on a keep almost everything mindset and while that seems to be sort of right, there are some papers that I can toss with confidence.  I made a little cheat sheet to help me through the sorting and since I don’t have anything but piles of papers to show you, I thought I’d share a free printable if you have this overwhelming project on your list too.  Enjoy!

How Long Should I Keep It For - Clean Mama

Grab your FREE How Long Should I Keep It For….printable here!

You can also grab a coordinating printable for your paper filing pleasure – the File It FREE printable – get your ideas for filing on paper first in these six categories and then start filing!  If you go to this post you’ll also see how I finally updated my filing cabinet too.

File It Printable via Clean Mama

If you like these printables, you’ll love my shop – Clean Mama Printables! 

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How to Stop the Paper Trail – Photographs

We’ve been working through letting go of paper clutter over the past few weeks, tackling areas and methods to eliminate the stream of paper and piles.  We only have two areas left…today we’re going to talk about photograph storage.
Photographs are a touchy subject because there are so many forms and ways to store them.  How you store and keep photographs is a personal preference, with no real right or wrong way.  Obviously, if your photos are taking over a room or part of your life, it’s too much, but today let’s look at some ways to store and keep photographs.
I keep extra photos in photo boxes in an upper shelf in our craft room closet.  You can see the whole post about my craft room here if you are interested.
I like having favorite pictures in frames throughout the house, but I do photo albums too and we keep them in a little antique hutch in our living room.  We love to look through photo albums!
Here are some other great ideas for organizing your photograph storage from my Pinterest board….
This is a great tutorial from ABFOL on how to organize your photos digitally
another great tutorial from chezlarsson.com

 

great storage tool from The Container Store
I love this idea from a thousand words for photo books

 

So….what’s your method for photo storage?
If you haven’t seen this yet, how about a ‘paper’ checklist?
Click here to see all the posts in this series.

I’ve got a BIG announcement here on the blog on Wednesday – I can’t wait to share it with you!  See you then!

How to Stop the Paper Trail – Card Storage

We’ve been working through letting go of paper clutter over the past few weeks, tackling areas and methods to eliminate the stream of paper and piles. Today we’re talking about CARD STORAGE!  Perfect for this time of year, no?  I’m not talking about cute displays for your Christmas cards that you see all over the place this time of year, I’m talking about what you do after the birthday or holiday is over.  Do you keep them, toss them, save them in a special place?  I don’t keep all cards, but the special ones I do save.  My ‘organization method’ for cards is a ziploc bag with the event and year on them.  Totally not archivally safe and not a great method, but at least it’s a step better than crammed in the back of a drawer, right?  So I’m working through this with you and I’m here today to provide some ideas for cards storage for all of us.  Here are a couple ideas that I’ve rounded up….
cute idea if you only save a couple really special cards

 

use an expandable file folder – divide by person, year, event…
this could work, but the cards would have to be on the smaller side
my favorite idea – cute covered box for card storage

 

 So….do you have a great method to share your sentimental card storage?
Clickhere to see all the posts in this series.

How to Stop the Paper Trail – Binders

We’ve been working through letting go of paper clutter over the past few weeks, tackling areas and methods to eliminate the stream of paper and piles.  Today we’re talking about BINDERS!  They are my favorite tool to organize paper.  I feel like my binders are like my homekeeping brain on paper – all the things and ideas I have swirling around can be put to paper and filed away in a neat and tidy way.

 

Why use a binder?
  • Isolate a subject or a variety of subjects in one, easy to locate place.
  • Portable filing system – no need to haul a filing cart or box around.
  • Inexpensive – there are so many different types and styles of binders, you are sure to find a style that you like and fits your needs.
  • They can be stored in a drawer, on a bookshelf, in a cabinet, on top of your desk.
  • Use one subject per binder or many subjects per binder – flexible!
  • Reusable – binder not working for one thing, switch it up and use it for something else.
What can you put in a binder?  The options are endless, but here are some ideas to get you started.
  • Homekeeping tools (cleaning checklists, maintenance schedules)
  • Budget and bill pay information
  • School papers (phone numbers, teacher info, etc.)
  • Important papers that you don’t need all the time, but you might need to grab in a hurry (insurance paperwork and forms, automobile info, banking/investment data, etc.)
  • Projects – separate by specific projects or keep a binder with all your projects in one place
  • Recipes – one of my all-time favorite binder projects

Want to see how I use binders in my home?  I use them everywhere and for most types of paper storage.  Here’s a round-up of posts on a few types of binders to get you started:

How about you?  Have you hopped on the binder bandwagon?  What do you use binders for?
Inspired to start a binder collection?  Well it’s your lucky day –  I’ll be back later TODAY with a BIG giveaway sure to get a binder started for you!  Any guesses as to what the giveaway is?
Clickhere to see all the posts in this series.
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How to Stop the Paper Trail – School Papers

We’ve been working through a series on letting go of paper clutter and this week’s topic is school papers.  They’re sentimental, sweet, and if you let them, they’ll take over your house.  My kids bring home piles of papers every.single.day.  I love going through them with them and talking about their days, what they learned, and what the paper is all about.  But….we don’t keep them.  I use two ‘systems’ for school papers and the system has been working really well for us, so I thought I’d share.
I keep papers that need to be returned to school, calendars, permission slips, etc. on their own clipboards in our office.
Then, the super cute, super special papers go in a file box for the school years.  The kids help me decide what is special enough to keep and what can be recycled.  I have these 3 free printables if you’d like to make them for your family’s school memory box post, follow the link below the picture.
Here’s my/our criteria – precious artwork (I am an art teacher, so the drawings and paintings tend to rank a little higher), a stellar test, adorable story, or something really special that can’t be made again.
Here are a couple more great ideas for school paper storage….
This is my all-time favorite idea for art work – scan the images, shrink them down, and put all special artwork from a school year on one picture.  Have professional prints made and put in a frame and under glass.
(I cannot find the original source, so if you know of it, let me know!)

I love the look of this, an upgrade from the clipboard and a great idea!

This is so great – a cubby for every family member – school papers could easily be in here waiting to be signed or filed.
This isn’t for school papers, but what a great idea to keep all those oh-so-important baby papers!So what’s your school paper solution or system?  Any great tips to share?

The big ‘Get Organized’ Sale in my Etsy shop ends tonight at 10cst – if you haven’t grabbed your printables at 30% off, today’s the last sale day….
I’ll be back later today with a great giveaway – hint – if you like Washi tape, you’ll LOVE the giveaway!
LIKE my Facebook page for a brand new FREE Facebook Fan Freebie! Make sure that you add me to your notifications if you want simple daily cleaning reminders.
Click here to see all the posts in this series.

How To Stop the Paper Trail – Organized Bill Paying

How about a little organized bill paying?  Bill paying is inevitable and it typically isn’t very cute.  I am a visual learner and person, so bills are not my forte.  But, add a little cuteness to them and I am totally on board.  This is how I keep track of my bills – what needs to be paid, what’s been paid, saved, and progress on debt.  (You could easily do this with a notebook and pen, a binder, a folder….anything that works for you – I am just showing you how I handle the bill paying.)

 

Today’s post is one to get you thinking about how you pay your bills – is there a better way for you to track things?  Are you sick of having stacks of bills?  This week’s challenge is to see what can you do to simplify your bills and bill paying.
 I used a report cover and plastic dividers with pockets
then I used the free template that came with the plastic dividers to make six sections/tabs (checklist, due 1-15, due 16-31, savings, debt, budget)
use the pockets to keep track of savings and debt repayment ( I don’t know about you, but seeing my savings and debt on paper is very motivating)
I keep the budget at the very back of the folder – it’s for 3 months at a time, so it’s nice to see three months laid out in front of me.
What’s helpful for you to keep your bills in order and organized?
I used my Budget + Bill Pay Kit from my shop for this post – if you are interested, I sell it in brights and aqua + lime versions.
 
LIKE my Facebook page for a brand new FREE Facebook Fan Freebie! Make sure that you add me to your notifications if you want simple daily cleaning reminders.
Click here to see all the posts in this series.

How to Stop the Paper Trail – Bills

Last week we talked about mail and setting up a mail station.  Once you have a mail station, you are ready to conquer the bill clutter.  (I know that bills are mail, but to me it’s much more manageable and less overwhelming to break it down a little bit.)
The obvious ways to eliminate bill clutter is to do electronic bill pay through your bank or through websites like  Manilla or mint.com.  But…there will still be bills that come in the mail and you will need some sort of a system to check off bills, balance your checkbook, know that things are paid on time, and shred or save bills.  Personally, I do a hybrid of online bill pay through the bank and mailing bills in.  Today we’re going to look at a couple ways to sort bills and organize that area of paper clutter.  So it’ll be a round-up of bill paying cuteness and inspiration and ideas – ready?
Here’s an idea to use file folders – one for bill pay stuff and the other for receipts

 

Very simple idea, but totally effective.

 

Toni from A Bowl Full of Lemons has amazing tips in this series on organizing your finances.
Looking for what you need to store your bills once you’ve paid them?  Here are some recommended supplies:
Once you pay your bills, put them in the correct month’s file – save for the year and then shred.  Keeping stamps, address labels/stamp, pens, pencils and a calculator grouped together will make your bill paying simple and easy.
Later this week, I’ll share how I use my Budget + Bill Pay Kit to organize my bills.
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Click here to see all the posts in this series.

 

New in the shop:
The CLEAN House Kit (introductory price!)

How to Stop the Paper Trail – Set Up a Mail Station

Monday I talked about reducing your mail clutter – hopefully you’ve been able to make some progress on your mail situation the last couple days.  Today, let’s talk about setting up a mail station.
Why set up a mail station?
Creating a space to drop your mail, pay your bills, etc. is a step towards less paper piles and a more organized household.
What’s in my mail station?
You need to decide what will most effectively work for you in your home for a mail station, but here are some ideas:
in/out containers
pens, pencils
calendar
stamps
checkbook
calculator
paper shredder
letter opener
phone charger
addresses/phone numbers (rolodex)
catch-all container (chapstick, nail clipper, keys, extra garage door opener, wallet)
Here’s my mail station – I’ve labeled the picture so you can see where I’ve put my supplies.
What are some must-haves for you in your mail station?  Anything I left out?
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Click here to see all the posts in this series

How to Stop the Paper Trail – Mail

This week we’re going to work on stopping the paper trail as it pertains to mail.  We’re going to work through 3 things this week (all are detailed today).  First off, here are a couple simple guidelines regarding mail if you want it to pile up less.
  • open your mail over the recycling or garbage can – toss junk mail in the recycling can in your garage
  • quickly separate mail – open bills and put them in a bill paying spot – dispose of any extras that come with the bills, have a designated spot for other mail that you need to come back to
  • pay your bills electronically if you can and/or want to (we’ll talk more about bills and bill paying next week)
  • sign up for ebills to limit paper bills
Second, set up a mail station – even if it’s as simple as a basket to catch your mail.  Set something up that’s easy to access for any family member that brings mail and paper into the house. Here are a couple ideas:

 

Once you’ve set up a system (remember, it can be as simple as a basket), then you’ll want to figure out how to limit unwanted paper.  Here are a couple helpful sites and resources that I found while I was researching how to cut down on junk mail:
  • Direct Mail Choice (DMAchoice) – this is the Direct Mail Choice company – if you go to this website, you can select what types of direct mail you receive and what you don’t receive
  • Catalog Choice – this is a free service to opt out of catalogs, coupons, credit card offers, phone books, circulars and more
Want more info?  Here are a couple apps and a resource that can help with the paper clutter for those of you that are oh-so-digital:
This app takes all your store cards and reward cards and puts them in one place on your phone – neat!
The Magic Envelope is a resource that sends you a postage paid envelope – you fill it up and then they make all your paper digital – crazy, right?

 

This is a fun app that a reader recommended – you take a photo of your junk mail and PaperKarma gets rid of it for you.
And finally, I’d like to challenge you to CLEAR your surfaces.  If I don’t stay on top of it, there are little and big piles from one end of the kitchen to the next.  Everything from school papers, mail, magazines and catalogs, bills, artwork…..When I start to feel overwhelmed or if I let it go for more than a couple days, it’s too much.  What do I do?  CLEAR everything off and put it in a grocery bag and set it aside.  Then I wipe down the surfaces, arrange what’s supposed to be there, and I don’t put the papers back.  Instead, I sort through them right away and put them in their proper place or I set the bag aside until I have time to get to it.  (This will only work if you get to the bag later in the day or by the next – you don’t want to start a habit of having bags of stuff stashed around the house.)  Another helpful tip is to add ‘declutter’ to your daily cleaning routine.  Like everything else, doing a little bit everyday is easier than trying to tackle everything all at once.
I’ll be back this week to talk more about how to deal with mail clutter and I’ll be sharing my ‘mail station’ as well.
How do you limit your mail clutter?  Any great tips to share?
Click here to see all the posts in this series.
Looking to get organized in 2013?  Check out my new kit – The 2013 Clean + Organized Lifestsyle Kit

Overwhelmed? Find success in your homekeeping with my latest book, Simply Clean! Dismiss