My life is an explosion of paper.
Receipts. Notices. Bills. Permission slips. Prescriptions. Notes for the website. Scratched ideas on napkins for our radio show. Drawings from the kids. Junk mail that might be handy. It all adds up. It takes no time at all to discover I no longer know what’s important and what isn’t.
In desperation, I found an excellent article on Oprah.com from Jean Chaztky. Follow along and see if these ideas can help you, too.
Four Simple Steps To Organizing Your Financial Life:
- Get The Right Tools: Having the right supplies will make the process easier. Hanging folders, files and labels are necessities. You’ll also want stamps, envelopes, Post-it notes, a stapler and pens. Put them all in a box.
Label your hanging folders according to your needs, but I like to use these categories: home and auto; healthcare and insurance; saving and investing; income and taxes; and credit cards and other debts. Then you can use file folders to sort subcategories. Let’s say you have two credit cards; you’ll want a folder for each. Start fresh every year.
Read more here.
- Dig In: When I clean a closet, I pull everything off the racks and toss it onto my bed or the floor. You want to do the same with your bills and paperwork.
If it’s sitting in a pile on your kitchen table, move it to an area that can be messy for a little while. This can take anywhere from several hours to several days depending on how much stuff you have to plow through and how much time you have to devote to the process.
Read more here.
- Start Sorting: Once you have everything in front of you, make three new piles: Pay, File and Shred.
Take statements and bills out of their envelopes. If you find a bill that needs to be paid, do it on the spot, says Monica Ricci, an organizing expert and author of Organize Your Office in No Time. “Paying bills as they come in gets them off your plate physically and mentally,” Monica says.
Bank, insurance and brokerage statements should be filed in their folders. Consider getting a shredder to get rid of obsolete files with personal info and other papers you don’t need. Then recycle. Look how virtuous you feel!
Follow the 5 Ds to give your paperwork an organizational overhaul
- Stay On Track: Here’s the tricky one for me. Once you have a system in place, it’s all about maintenance. Pay bills online and get statements via e-mail to cut down on clutter. When the mail comes, sort it in just a few moments. Every time you open a new account or switch insurance coverage, start a new folder for it.
Twice a year, give your system a once-over to ensure you’re on track.
Find out how long you need to keep your financial paperwork