A while back, I discussed my routine for meal planning and running errands. This routine hasn’t changed all that much. I still plan my meals; I still keep lists of things I want/need to buy; and I still keep a list of the places I need to go each week; I still use Wunderlist to organize my errand running. (You can read my complete overview of Wunderlist here.) However, all of these errands—as well as general everyday mail and random other items—create a lot of paper clutter.
How do I deal with it all?
First, in regards to mail, I sort items each day upon bringing it into the house. Anything that is for my husband goes into a wire bin on the kitchen counter. It’s up to him to process his own items. More often that not, he leaves his mail in the bin. Each week, when I clean the kitchen, I’ll throw out anything that is no longer relevant (things like supermarket circulars or outdated coupons, etc.). I will also remove anything that belongs to my husband and put those items in his bin in the office. Once that bin gets full, I make a point of letting him know, at which time he will (usually) go through his office bin and process everything. It typically takes him the better part of an afternoon, but once it’s done, the bin is good to go until the next time it gets full. The timeframe for this can vary, mostly depending on how long it takes my husband to sort through his stuff and/or how much stuff collects there.
Any mail that comes in for me, I try to deal with right away, throwing out or shredding items that I don’t need and filing those things that I do need. However, there are those times when I don’t get a chance to deal with the mail right away. I end up piling these items on the desk in the office until I can find the time to sort through them.
Here is what that process consists of:
Anything I cannot deal with right away gets piled up in the corner of my desk.
Once I have time, I pull out my planner and sort the main pile into like item piles—receipts go in one pile, bills in another, and other random things in another, depending on what’s there.
From there, I deal with items pile by pile.
For all bills, due dates get written in green in my planner on the day they are due.
Then, about a week prior to the due date, I write, “pay [bill]” in blue as a daily task item.
Then, the bill goes into my “To Pay” file.
(This file box, by the way, is a product of Thirty-One Gifts, as is the zippered pouch, which holds coupons for clothing and accessory stores.)
When I get to the day that a bill needs to be paid, I do so, cross out the task and the due date a week later, make a notation of the date paid on the bill itself, and file the bill in the filing cabinet. I keep those for a year.
As for receipts, I keep a log of how much I spend in a month so that I can keep tabs on how much I spend between my two credit cards. I use credit cards for almost every purchase, including the grocery store, gas, and personal and household items. I don’t use my debit card for anything except the ATM. This helps me factor in routine spending (like groceries) with my “extra” spending (like clothes); it’s just another way to make sure that I don’t overspend.
After my Saturday errands, I gather all of my receipts together. I input the amount from each receipts into a monthly tally to see how much I’ve spent in total.
Once I have jotted down the amount, I put the receipt into a corresponding envelope for the month.
I have different envelopes for different things: one for bank receipts, one for credit card #1, one for credit card #2, and one for cash spending for things that may need to be returned. Once my credit card bill comes and is paid, I shred the corresponding receipts and remove the tracking sheets from my household binder. (My tracking sheets are nothing more than Filofax notepaper that I had used—but not fully—for various notes. Once I’m done working on a project, I will move any unused notepaper to the financial section of my household binder specifically for financially tracking. I will continue to use sections of these sheets until all available space has been used. This saves paper and the expense of buying more paper when not needed.)
That’s it—it’s nothing fancy, but it keeps me organized and keeps the paper clutter to a minimum. Sometimes the hardest part is finding the time to sit down and sort it all.
*Note: I am in no way affiliated with Thirty-One Gifts or getting compensation from the company.