A desk sorter, a basket and a filing cabinet….
Jenny over at Mamalicious has asked me how I tame my paper monster. Please know that what I’m about to share is what is currently working for ME. This could change any time…like the next time I’m having a bad day and need to get into the Zone!
There really isn’t much to my system but I think it may take a bit to explain so I do apologize for boring you in advance. I deal with all my paperwork immediately. In other words each piece of paper that comes into my house is handled by ME, not my hubbie (no, no, no) and put into its designated space pronto. My bills to be paid have a home, flyers have a home, receipts have a home, pretty much anything coming in can be put directly into a preassigned space of some kind. Junk mail goes directly to the GARBAGE!
There isn’t much to my paper system. It consists of a desk sorter, a basket and a filing cabinet. That’s it really. So in order for my explanation to make some sort of sense let me set you up with some pictures first. Here is my desk:
See that little black thingy beside the computer screen? That’s my desk sorter. I couldn’t live without it. It’s a little full so its hard to see and it did frighten me to think about emptying it to give you a closer look so here is one that it looks similar to:
My filing cabinet sits directly behind my computer chair and it looks like this:
The first slot of my desk sorter holds an envelope. This envelope is where all receipts (debit/visa) go that haven’t been entered into Quicken and yes I have my hubbie trained to put his receipts there too. I track all of our finances using the Quicken program. Once these receipts have been entered they move to the little green basket that you see in the picture above. This green basket holds an envelope for visa receipts and the cash/debit receipts….I usually only keep these receipts for three months or so. Of course any major purchase receipts I keep stapled to the manual and filed in here.
Also in the first slot of the desk sorter is where I put any bills that need to be paid. After that I have a pocket size calendar where I keep track of paydates and payments due. The next couple of slots after that hold information about items I’m waiting on or that require some sort of action in the near future. For instance, when I submit prescription receipts to our insurance carrier I will photocopy the receipts and stick them here until I get the cheque back. Once I have received the cheque back the papers get moved to my “to file pile” which is located in the wicker basket on top of my filing cabinet. Another example would be rebate forms I’ve submitted and am waiting on a cheque for. The purpose of this is so that I can ensure I have received everything back that I am waiting on…..I’d never remember otherwise….believe me!
Once a week I sit down and enter in the receipts to Quicken and pay our bills online if needed. Once the bills are paid they too get moved to the wicker “to file pile”. Every so often (read three months…yikes) I’ll file that “to file pile” into the filing cabinet. The top drawer is my hubbies and the bottom drawer is mine. In my drawer I have a different file folder for each of the different bills and banking statements. I keep these bills/statements for one year. I only have this one drawer so I have to be pretty dilligent about shredding old documents regularly. Our filing cabinet also holds house and van papers as well as tax information. All other important documentation (marriage license, birth certificates, etc) are either kept in our safety deposit box or our fireproof safe.
Lastly all the sale flyers for the week are kept in my dining room. I have a tea cart with two pull out wire baskets and I keep them in one of these baskets. I toss any old flyers before I add the new ones. I love the sale flyers!!!
Not too long ago I discussed how I deal with all the kids school papers here.
Whew. I think that about covers it. If I’ve missed something let me know and I’ll reply in the comments.
I find that if I don’t deal with the paperload right away the piles can easily and quickly wear me down and get the better of me.
I’d love to hear about what works for you in your home!