Eliminating paper clutter- ughh- The worst of all clutter. The hardest as well! How do you know what to get rid of and what to keep? I'm writing about this to maybe inspire me to do it today :).
It's a process of: eliminating the unnecessary, taking care of the important and organizing, filing and storing what's necessary
I have read that you should have a spot to sit down that is specially designated for taking care of bills and paperwork. In a small house this is not possible. Some rooms have to do double duty. All of my paperwork is done at the computer or kitchen table. Everything is stored in either my holding basket or my small closet where I keep my files.First Step: Eliminate paper clutter at it's source. Call companies that send out catalogs and brochures and ask them to take you off of their mailing list. You'll eliminate clutter and you'll help curb the destruction of trees to produce these catalogs. Remove yourself from all the mailing lists that you are aware of. Instead opt for e-mail notification of new products or sales you might be interested in.
If you have decided to live debt free and rid yourself of credit cards, freeze your credit report. It can be unfrozen if you need to have your credit checked. This helps eliminate credit card offers.
Next: Have shredder handy (small ones are inexpensive). Sort and open mail daily. Immediately if possible. Throw away all junk mail and envelopes and offers. Shred any sensitive material such as credit card offers and anything with personal info on it. Plain non-waxy paper may be shredded and used in compost and bedding for small animals such as chickens.
Then: Put all papers in a holding area. I put papers I am not handling immediately in a holding basket. Every week to two weeks I go through the basket.
Types of Paper:
Business: Contracts, Receipts, back-up disc, license
All business contracts are filed in a folder marked as such and all dates are marked in my daily calender, Receipts are filed in a simple folder marked receipts, my business disc is backed up each time I record in quickbooks and is filed with my other important discs. License renewals are taken care of at the begining of the year then filed as such.
Personal: bills, investment and bank statements,
A binder with pockets is perfect for holding monthly bills. Pay as many bills as you can on-line and write down the confirmation number in your checkbook record. If it is a bill you claim on your taxes, print a paid receipt.
All investment statements can be hole punched an stored in the binder until a new one comes in. Then store them in a file folder.
You can balance your checkbook weekly on-line. When my statements come in compare them if you have a question. Remove any checks used for tax receipts and file them with the appropriate information. Then file the statements together.
Important Documents: birth certificate, marriage license, immunization records for children, titles, insurance-car and house, bonds, wills
Keep all together in a folder. That way in case of a hurricane or emergency, simply grab the folder and run.
Taxes: Any receipts or papers to be used for taxes
Most people keep all receipts because they do not know which receipts they should keep. Throw away: groceries, fast food, small purchases. Keep: large purchases and any receipts needed for taxes-medical, business expenses, charitible giving etc.. You can also scan receipts and store them on a disc. This is nice since heat sensitive receipts fade.
Children: Artwork, report cards, awards
Keep exceptional drawings, writings, or artwork, end of year report cards, exceptional certificates. (I don't keep perfect attendance, I did keep Tera's certificate for the highest science score on the leap test - who says girls arn't good in science?) Then keep each child's work in a box marked with their name.
Warranties: File warranties and owners manuals along with purchase receipts in a large binder. Slip them in clear pockets and put them in the binder. Once a year remove any that you do not have anymore.
Do not create too many files. It gets too tedious. For example: Do not create, electric bills, gas bills, insurance bills, - Just create, Paid Bills. They can be separated easily at the end of the year for any you might need for taxes.
At the end of the year, put everything (except your children's artwork and warranties) in a box, mark it "2008", put your tax return info on top and put them in a closet or attic. Yer dun!!!