Paper piles up. It seems to be it's favorite thing to do. Everything from mail, kids schoolwork, receipts and then the general papers that you wonder where they came from.
Organizing papers was probably the first thing I started doing when I decided to declutter our home. The rest of the house could be clean, but with the piles of paper everywhere, it never looked it. Here are just some of my tips on where to start and what you can do with those stacks of papers floating around your house.
Mail: The best place to start is what time you get the mail. Only pick up your mail if you have time to go through it right then! This will save you from a mail filled table or desk. As you go through your mail, sort it. Junk mail rip up, and toss in the garbage. The rest sort as needed. There are many tools out there to help with mail sorting. I use 2. The first thing I use is a 2 drawer filing cabinet.
I have folders inside for bank statements, taxes, student loans, car insurance, and photos to name a few. These are papers that I need to hold on to usually for a couple years by recommended standards. The photos are ones we get from friends and family for weddings, birthdays, and Christmas. I don't want to throw them out, but I also can't display every picture I ever get. Having a folder for them keeps them safe, and accessable.
The second item I use is specifically for mail sorting. I picked it up at a yard sale over the summer, and it has been wonderful to use!
The top is labeled letters, then bills, then misc. I personally use the top for coupons, stamps, and outgoing mail. I put all our bills in the middle pocket, and go through them each month. The bottom is my misc. mail that I need to still sort and file into the filing cabinet (things end up here usually when I get the mail at a time that I don't have time to go through it).
Bills: The next big thing. The papers no one wants to talk about, or see. The problem is we all have them, and they aren't going to go away no matter how many times we click our heels. One great way to minimize the bill papers is to go paperless. The majority of companies have a paperless option, where you do all your bill pay online. You get your statements through emails, and never have to see another paper. I do most of my bills this way, but there are some that I still like to have in hand to go through. With this being our first home, I really like to get our mortgage statement in the mail. I pay it online, but having it hand to see, and remind me that I'm a grown up is kind of cool (yeah go ahead, call me weird). As I get all my bills, I place them in the mail holder. At the beginning of each month I go through them. I throw out the bills from the previous month, and then pay all the bills for the new month. I still hold onto those bills to the end of the month though. That way in case anything happens to a check in the mail, or an online payment isn't processed, I can look at the actual paper to make sure things are lining up.
Coupons: I personally don't use a whole lot of coupons. I've tried but the cost to get them, hasn't made up the difference for me, of what they save. There are a few staples that I do pull out and try to use. Like I mentioned before, I put most of my coupons in the top of my mail sorter. There are a few that I keep in a basket by the door though, so I can grab them on my way to the store. More coupon savvy people will use binders. Here's some great sites if you're into couponing or looking to start couponing. They can help you organize your coupons much better than I can.
Klippin Krazy is the first that comes to my mind. She has a Newbie Know How, and a daily coupon contact.
Coupon Frenzy Mom also has a coupons 101 guide, a page devoted to freebies, and drug store, grocery, and retail coupons!
School Papers: You pick up your kid from school, get home, and they proceed to empty their backpack showing you everything they did that day. There's artwork, stories, and report cards. Each day there is a new paper to add to their pile. You love it all, and are so proud of their hardwork, but you start to feel buried. The fridge is filled to the brim, and even if you wanted to buy more magnets, there's no place left for another picture.
What do you do? You need a box. A shoe box could work, but eventually you may need a larger bin. As your child goes through their papers, help them decide what you should keep and what you should toss. All things keep, but in the box. Then, at the end of the school year, go through the whole box. They may not remember a lot of the papers in there, and if that's the case, toss them. There will be a few more special pieces though, that you and they will want to hold on to. I call this a Special box. I had one growing up, and it still contains some very precious things to me. Throughout the years as my life has continued to change, I still go through it, and toss some things, and add others that have more meaning to who I've become.
Christmas Cards: We all get them, though they are starting to get more sparse. I like to recycle mine. After displaying the ones I get each year, I put them in a box. The next year, I pull them out and reuse. Some I make into gift tags, others I just cut off the front of the card and use it as it's own card. Here's a fun way I found to display the cards each year.
I hope these tips will help you as you try to live paper clutter free! I'm linking up to