Day 5 - Bills and Mail

Day five of the organizational challenge is to cut back on the paper in your life; specifically bills and mail.

There are several ways to do this, but the overall concept is to have a system that goes something like this: 'To be addressed', 'To be filed' and 'To be thrown away' for all incoming mail, paperwork, handouts, bills, etc.

You can create a sorting system with file folders, magazine holders, pre-made mail organization units (Container Store) or a combination of what works well for you, your space and your family.

For us, it looks like this...

All mail gets dropped here:

It gets picked up when we get home and immediately gets sorted.

If it is a bill or item that needs to be addressed it goes in the first slot of our "mailbox".  Found at Sweet William's Market last summer:

If it is a catalog or magazine that we want to read, it gets put here for easy reading by the couch:

If it is to be thrown away, it goes straight to the trash or recycling bin.

From there, you are ready to tackle your "To be addressed" section.  This can be done daily or weekly.  I prefer to have our bills out for me to see so that I don't forget about them or get amnesia and that I really do need to pay that Ann Taylor Loft statement.

Our "payment station" is conveniently right next to the bills.  Stamps, checks and return address labels are right there and ready to go:

Finally, once we pay a bill or for any other statement or flyer that we want to save, it goes into the "To be filed" slot of the mailbox.

Tip:  Angie, our speaker, suggested taking a look at www.lifeorganizers.com to find out how long you really do need to keep important documents and records.  I also found this article from CNN Money to help.

And when we are ready, we file them right down below in our file cabinet (which admittedly was a HUGE mess and what I decided to tackle on this day instead...):

A couple of other points that I would make about Day 5:

- Take note of where your coupons are going.  Are you using them before they expire?  Do you get to the mall and realize that your 20% off coupon is at home?  I am finding that by keeping all of my coupons in one place (and something that is always in my purse), I am much more likely to actually save some money - what a concept.  I keep all of my offers and coupons in this zip lock section of my Erin Condren planner (which happens to be offering $25 off right now.  Click HERE for promotion.)

My sister in law does all of her coupons on her phone with apps.  And someone else in my MOPS group keeps all of hers in the console of her car.  What do you do?  Any tips for coupons?

- Next, go through the magazines and loose papers in your home and purge.  Don't forget about junk drawers and bedside tables.  Keep a rotation of magazines coming in and old ones going out.  Switch issues with friends, bring them to the office, give to your mom, donate them to a doctor's office (sans your address) or simply recycle them.  These bulky things are sure to make your house cluttered in no time if you don't keep up.

- Finally, consider going paperless with all of your bills.  I am reluctant to get on this bandwagon, but Chris is insisting so I will have an idea of how convenient it is or isn't in the upcoming months.

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