Paper, Paper Everywhere

Yesterday I posted about my in-sight filing system which is working really well to control paper in our house.

Today I'll share some of my other paper organizing ideas for you in case you want to work on getting your paper under control as part of a spring cleaning resolution!

1) Stop the junk mail and unwanted catalogs. Start getting yourself off various mailing lists by removing yourself from catalog company lists. Once you get on one list, they will continue to resell your information over and over again. Get yourself off the lists either through the company itself or through any one of the various companies who help stop junk mail (just google "stop junk mail" and you'll get the idea).

2) Sign-up for online banking and bill pay. I really don't know why everyone doesn't use online banking. There is almost no reason to walk into a bank unless you need something notarized! I receive all of my bank and credit card statements online and via email. I also pay as many bills as possible online and automatically if that's an option. For example, my cable bill and cell phone bills are the same every month so I paying automatically makes total sense. I eliminate probably 20 pieces of mail per month by stopping this paper. Even my dad uses online banking!

3) Set-up a VERY convenient paper recycling bin or basket. We keep our paper recycling in a bin our main kitchen closet. I literally walk by it to hang up my coat and to get from the front door (mailbox) back to the kitchen. I sort my mail on the kitchen island and IMMEDIATELY tear up and toss anything junk mail straight into the basket. We take the paper out to our outdoor recycling bin twice per week. Arlington no longer requires paper to be separate from other recycling.

4) Throw out paid bills which you can access elsewhere. If I receive a bill and pay it (generally online), that I know I can access online later if I need to, I toss the original copy. No more binders of bills. The main exception to this is insurance premium notices. I generally document the check number and the date I paid it, and then file it with our other insurance information. The main reason I do this is to document that we have the insurance and the carrier in case it's needed by someone other than me. I have one file drawer of long-term paper (including tax returns) which could probably be cut by half or more. I don't ever plan to have more than that!

5) Tax receipts. I keep all tax receipts for a particular year in one folder. As I collect receipts for donations, local taxes, childcare, and other potentially deductible items, and any tax forms that we receive in January and February, I put them in the folder and they are ready for my accountant. (I finally stopped doing our taxes this year and it is a MAJOR relief because this is the time that I start to panic!)

6) Coupons. I keep coupons in one of the visible files I posted about yesterday. I'm much less likely to forget that I have them if I have the file handy!

7) Kids art. I keep the best pieces in a drawer in the living room. I try to think about it in terms of whether I would like to look at it again in 10 or 20 years. If not, I recycle it. I also display my absolute favorite on the family room wall.

8) Invitations and other reminders.I hang invitations and reminders in our pantry bulletin board or on the sliver of fridge which sticks out from the cabinet (it's magnetic).

I think the moral of the story is to be ruthless with your paper purging or you will quickly find yourself buried in paper with no daylight in sight!

If you need some inspiration, watch an episode or two of the Hoarders on A&E. I guarantee you'll be inspired to throw stuff out before you go to bed that night!
How do you keep paper organized in your house?