Okay... I'm not the most organized person in the world. My desk at work is clean, my car is junk-free, and my kitchen counter gets cleaned off regularly. But paper has threatened to take over my life. I can end up with piles and piles of paper in a matter of days. I'm pretty sure they're multiplying when I'm not looking!
The problem arises when I don't deal with the papers on a regular basis. Emma's school papers, our bank statements, coupons, and *gasp* my CVS Extra Care Bucks all end up in the same piles. When I need to find something, it can be a really frustrating, sometimes fruitless hunt.
I'm starting to feel the effects of letting my papers pile up. I've temporarily lost some Extra Care Bucks, causing myself some serious stress. (I did eventually find them!) I've lost high-value coupons to the ever-expanding paper piles, only to find them long after they've expired. Once I missed paying a bill because it was stuck in a pile.
I realize now that keeping myself organized not only lowers my stress levels, but it also saves my family money. Here are some of the things I'm trying right now to keep myself more organized and save some money in the process.
- I keep a file for bills right on my desk. I have a basket organizer on my desktop, and I love it. It's actually a Longaberger basket, but I got it free from hosting a party years ago! (See it HERE.) I have files for my blog, my bills, taxes, Christmas, eBay, and rebates in my organizer. Whenever a bill arrives, it immediately goes into the bills folder. If I have paperwork for one of the other categories, it gets filed before it goes in any pile. This has probably been the best organizational tool I've found so far.
- I balance my checkbook regularly using our online banking system. This helps me catch those oops-I-forgot-to-write-it-in purchases that can add up really quickly.
- I keep three coupon envelopes in my desktop basket organizer. One is for my coupons that are ready to be filed in my coupon binder. When I print a coupon from the Internet, I immediately clip it and place it in this envelope. The second one is for coupons I share with one of my dad's co-workers and his wife (Hi, Mary!). The third envelope is for the expired coupons I send to my overseas military family. Any time I find a coupon in my many piles, it goes right into one of those three envelopes. Then I organize my coupon binder about once a week.
- I keep an envelope in my purse for receipts. I don't keep every receipt in the envelope, just the ones for items that I may need to return. Receipts for clothing, housewares, and toys definitely go in the envelope. I go through it once in a while, clearing out the ones for items I know we won't need to return. If I do have a return, I can simply place it in the van, knowing that the receipt is in my purse.
So have you ever had paper piles invade your home? How do you stay organized when it comes to paper? I'd love to hear your tips so that I can do more to keep myself on top of the paper problem. I just know that tackling the paper problem will help us have fewer missed money-saving opportunities.
For more great frugal living ideas, stop by Frugal Friday hosted by Life As Mom.