How to Organize Your Bills, Mail and Papers at Home -- be an Organized Pack Rat

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When finding a utility bill has you plowing through a mountain of paperwork stuffed in various weird and wonderful places in your home, then you are definitely a pack rat. Far from organized, a pack rat likes to keep absolutely anything and everything, on the off chance they may need to use it someday. While this may appear resourceful, the more disorganized you’re household bills and paperwork, the more likely you are to lose something important or forget to pay a bill. Implementing a basic system will help keep your paperwork organized and finances on track.

Things You'll Need

  • Filing cabinet or plastic filing bin
  • Accordion file or manila envelopes
  • Calendar
  • Decide on a home filing system that caters to your needs and is easy to use. If you have a large amount of paperwork, you may benefit from a filing cabinet or a plastic filing bin. If your paperwork is minimal, manila envelopes or a small accordion file should suffice. Place your filing system somewhere you can sit down and use it, such as a kitchen, a study or a home office.

  • Mark each file or envelope according to the type of paperwork it will hold, such as "bills paid," "bank statements" and "personal." Alternatively, mark each file or envelope with colors, such as red for bills, blue for statements and so on. Once you have marked the files, organize your paperwork and place in the appropriate file.

  • Organize your mail as soon as you receive it each day. Go quickly through the pile, separating bills from other pieces of mail. Decide what you can throw away and file the rest away in the appropriate place.

  • Move important paperwork you need to keep but do not need to look at frequently in to a separate file or envelope marked "deep storage." This may include tax documents, birth certificates, receipts for household items and deeds. Keep it somewhere out of the way but easily accessible and safe.

  • Obtain information regarding setting up bill payments online. Pay all utility bills and credit card payments online and request paperless billing. This means you will no longer receive any bills through the mail, immediately cutting down on your filing. Print copies of payment receipts and put them in your "bills paid" file until the next bill is paid.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make time to update and sort through your filing daily. Keep copies of your most recent bills and either throw the others away or place in to the "deep storage" file. Mark bills due on your calendar, this will act as a visual remainder to pay them on time, helping you avoid late fees. This method is especially useful if you pay bills online. Strike them off when paid. Alternatively, set a remainder for bills on your computer's calendar, PDA or cell phone.

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