January Challenge: Organizing Papers (Mail & Bills)

Happy New Year Ya'll! Are you ready and as excited as I am to get organized in 2013?

Today is day one of the monthly organization challenge. Each month I'll introduce the space/area that I'm bringing to Delightful Order.

The challenge for the month of JANUARY is all about taming the PAPER clutter in our homes.  Yes, papers ~ boring ole' papers.  I know some of you may not like the idea of starting here, but we all have papers that can easily overwhelm us if we don't take control. So I believe this is a very good start.

Today is all about organizing MAIL & BILLS.

The KEY is to find a system that works for you and your family.   Sometimes it takes a little trial and error to find out what that is. I'm continually learning myself and yes, I've tried different ways, finding out what works for me and what doesn't and changing the way I keep it together at times.

The system I use remains the same as it has for quite a few years. I have, however, changed the way I store my mail & bills, etc.

Back in 2010/2011 I was using this accordion file to organize it all.  Then in 2012, I switched to the All-In-One Family Planner and now after a whole year, even though I do use a lot of the printables in that planner (just in different ways) In order to simplify and organize my most important papers I've switched to the:
Monthly Organizer

So.. Here's the system I use to organize Mail & Bills:

#1 - I go through the mail daily.  

Remember how I created that adorable Mail Organizer?  Yeah, well guess what, we used it for a while and really it's a good idea. (There are so many mail organizing files out there ~ if you think that'll be the best fit for your family, I advise getting something like that.)

BUT my old ways just seem to come right back to me, so really, truthfully and honestly, that cute lil' mail organizer is not getting used. :(  I do plan on turning it into something useful someday.  Maybe I'll bring it into my office/craft room.

I do throw away any junk mail right away.  Usually, I don't even bring it into my house. I typically drop it in the garbage in the garage.

#2 - Next I file the pieces (according to where they belong) in my Monthly Organizer Binder that I've created using a 3 ring binder and some pocket tab dividers. Does everything always get filed in the proper spot daily? Nope.  Typically it goes in the front of the folder, until I have some time to go through it (which usually ends up being once every couple of weeks.)

If you remember a while back I talked about the three filing systems for my bill paying & mail organizing: Immediate, Intermediate and Archival filing.  That has all stayed the same.  It's what works for me. I know it and I like it.

Here is my Immediate Daily Filing:
I have divided the binder into these sections:

To Sort
To Do
Debt Payoff
Tax Info.
Tax Info - Medical Payments

I've got my to do list in here.  This is where I write down things that need to be done but aren't urgent. (Like reminders to make a dentist appointment, doctor appointment, etc.)
Then there's the monthly bills sections, which has a separate divider for every month of the year. I've set up a monthly budget report to keep track of the bills that are due each month. It's available in my Etsy Shop here.
This is what it looks like:
This spreadsheet works great for me.  I've printed one for each month and filed them accordingly in the organizer.
# 3 - When I receive a bill in the mail (yes, I still get bills via snail mail and no I haven't gone paperless yet.) I simply write in the amount due, due date and attach the bill to the monthly budget page with a paperclip.

# 4 - When I actually sit down to pay the bills (abt. 2x month) I use Quicken Home & Business to track it all in my computer. At the end of the year, it's so easy to see where I've been spending my money.

# 5 - Once I've made payment, I write "paid, the check # & the date" on the statement and file the statement in my...

Intermediate Filing for the Year
I have set up this file in two sections.  Paid Bills and Banking
I organize the paid bills in alphabetical order. I have separate folders for car payment, insurance-health, insurance-home, insurance-life, miscellaneous, mortgage, phone, schooling, utilities etc.

Behind the banking section is where I store the years bank statements (that is, after I reconcile them in Quicken each month.)

# 6 - Once a year (usually in January) I go through this file drawer, clearing it for the new year, shredding what does not need to be archived, and filing all the important files (ie. mortgage, bank statements, taxes, childrens important papers, etc) into my Archival Filing System, stored elsewhere in my home.

The rest of my monthly organizer has:
... the debt payoff sheet. (It's available in my shop too.) 
 Next is banking statements that need to be reconciled.
and tax information is at the end.

You may be interested in the All-In-One Family Planner printables or the All-In-One Colorful Stripe Planner printables. They may be a good start for you.

How about you?  Is your life in need of some organizing in the paper department?  Get started and come back here each week in January to see all the different paper areas that I'll be covering.

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to organize your mail and bills.  Just find a system that works for you.  It may be something similar to the way I keep track of mine or it may be completely different and that's okay.  The key is to getting your mail and bills organized and keeping it that way. 

Ready? Set, now go tackle your mail and bills pile and bring it to Delightful Order.

May you be a little inspired!
Until next time,  

Wanna join in on the Monthly Organization Challenge? During the month of January, we're Organizing Papers! There will be a link party at the end of the month for you to share your Paper Organizing Posts.  Join in, take photo's and blog about it.  Then come back here at the end of January to inspire us all and share your paper organizing success.

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