Organizing Paperwork

Q.  I would like to get some tips on how to better organize my bills, coupons, mail, magazines, newspaper ads, receipts, etc. I have a file but it is overloaded with old paperwork from last year.

Take all of last years paperwork and box it up and mark it with the year. I do this on New Years day every year. Fred B.

I used to be a "stacker". My life was secretly unorganized because I managed to keep my messes "stacked". A pile of papers on my desk, a pile of papers on my dining room table, a pile of mail in my kitchen. Then I read a great book…"How Not To Be A Messie". I bought a rolling file container from Target, and keep it under my sink. Things that consistently causing the messies…mail, bills to pay, things to file (in my bigger cabinet in the basement), school info, things to read…everything has a file in my rolling cabinet. Every month (you could do it weekly…) I file the Things to File in my bigger cabinet, pay the bills and start over again. I also had to RETRAIN myself and no longer open every piece of mail I receive. I bought a shredder at Wal*Mart and now used shredded YOU’RE PRE-APPROVED mail and such to line the hamster cage, mail packages and store breakables in the basement. Denise E.

I keep my coupons near my grocery list and I have one of the little coupon wallets I take to the grocery.  I clean out my files every year at income tax time.  Important paper work goes in a firm box in the attic marked with the year.  During the year I keep files established dividing everything from writing tablets, bank statements, prescription receipts, small appliance and large appliance instructions, and all correspondence.  Sometimes my filing may get a few months behind but if you will file each piece of paper as it comes in; it keeps the clutter down.  I kept my files for years in a grocer’s milk cardboard box (it held 6 gallons milk).  It held a set of hanging file folders and was very portable to where ever I need to work. I have a pending paper work drawer where I keep bills to be paid, bank statement to be reconciled, letters to be answered, etc.  I keep ups code ‘proof-of-purchase’ on products I am saving up for rebates in small sandwich zip lock bags together by product. Joe/Jeanie

I clean last years papers out every year (January 1) , after getting all my income tax info, I box them up and put them in the attic with the year written on the side of the box.  Warranties and books for appliances, etc, I make a separate file for and keep those in the drawer.  This makes bill paying easy and I can always go right to anything I need. Gary/Goldie

Get several shoe boxes & Xerox/computer paper boxes. You can get them free at shoe stores & the Xerox/pc boxes free at any business that uses those supplies. Get a large brown paper bag.  The shoe boxes are for the bills & coupons. Buy at a dollar store or on somewhere cheap or cut down old unused file folders to make subject dividers. Divide according to bill type, coupon type, etc. Once A MONTH or more (no less) go thru & clean out expired coupons, old bills..etc..Put newest bills in the front on the file. Only keep bills longer than a year if they are needed for tax records or are in dispute. Add new ones as soon as they come in. When you add one, toss one.  You might want a separate box for unanswered  mail/unpaid bills. Shred the bills & use the  paper as compost!  Use the brown paper bag to toss the coupons,  articles, etc. you no longer need & send this bag to the mixed-paper recycler when filled.  Sort  your incoming mail over this bag daily & you can easily toss junk mail, catalogues, envelopes & junk inserts from bills,etc. Magazines can go in the larger boxes, a year or two in one box, depending on size. Old jumbo cereal boxes can be cut down to make magazine holders.  You can decorate/paint/decoupage all the above  boxes if appearance matters to you.  Donate old magazines to nursing homes, library sales, clinics, etc. Elementary school kids often need them to cut-up for art or other projects.  Hope this helps.  Alekscat 

The best organization method I have for bills is using Quicken.  I have all my bills listed in the scheduled transaction list and I can "project" my bill due dates 3 months in advance.  (You can use any length of time.)  So I know NOW if my bills are going to total more than my income at any point in those 3 months and I can plan to cut here and there before that point to make up the difference.   I have used about every method known to man before I got Quicken and nothing else comes close.  God bless the creator of Quicken!   –Meg in NC

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