Housekeeping · Organization

Organizing All That Paper

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As I alluded to in my last post on craft closet organization, I’m going to tell you how I’ve revamped our paperwork filing system.

I really, really don’t like paperwork.  Let me clean, let me do laundry, let me do real work, but don’t make me sort through bills and papers.   My dislike for this part of housekeeping is probably what makes me less than organized with paper.

I was recently talking with my friend Melissa about this very topic, and she inspired me to create a nifty binder system for keeping current receipts and records in.

Household Finances Binder

Normally, I’d pay a bill, then set the record of my payment back to be filed in my filing cabinet, which is three rooms away from my computer desk. I had my filing cabinet sorted alphabetically, but I could never remember which actual word I had labeled the different categories with.  Had I labeled the folder for auto insurance as “Auto”, or “Insurance?”  I know, I know, I could check both the I and the A section, but (sigh) having to do so just made the task that much more of a hassle.

So I took my friend’s idea and made it my own.  I got a big binder, slipped scrapbook paper into the cover pockets, and set it up like this:

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1) A zipper pocket to hold pens, calculator, and paper.

2) A calendar to mark when bills are due.

3) Tab dividers with pockets to store receipts.

When I open a bill, I mark the due date on the calendar and put it in the front pocket of the notebook.  When I pay the bill, I three-hole punch the stub and file it behind the appropriate tab.  When I bring home receipts, they go in the pocket on the front of the tab divider for that expense category.  I got a lot of these ideas from this website.  I no longer have to leave my computer desk to file my paperwork.  I have my binder sitting right there on my desk.   And if I have to check on something I’ve already paid, I can readily find it.

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Filing Cabinet

Now for my filing cabinet.  If I had more shelf space, I could just keep putting binders in order from one year to the next, but my shelves are all filled up with books.  So my plan is to organize my files by year when I remove from my binder the stuff I want to keep at the end of the year.

I have a front section (yellow) and a back section (green) in my file drawer labeled “Household.”  The front section holds all the things that I want to keep in the same place from year to year:   insurance policies, bank account info, vehicle info, and medical records such as immunizations for the kids.  The back section is simply categorized by year and the folders are labeled with the same labels that are in my notebook.

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I’m sure for some of you this was a no-brainer; you’ve already been there, done that.  But for me, it is a much-needed and welcome improvement to my filing system.

Home School Files

Here are some changes I made to my home school files.  I decided to dedicate a chunk of a file drawer for each of my five kids, putting their art work and school work by year behind their name.  Again, pretty much a no-brainer, but I had been previously putting their art work under D for Drawings, and their school work in chronological order by the year, but not by each kid.  (I know. . . . didn’t I already mention I was lame at filing?!)

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Colored Paper

And, lastly, here’s one of my favorite improvements:  sorting paper by color, dropping it into a matching file folder, and keeping it tucked neatly out of the way in a drawer.

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I finished off this project by printing off some pretty labels for each drawer.

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So now you know where I am in the paper work organization game.  How about you?  What have you found to be the ideal way to deal with filing?   I’m open to better and better ideas all the time!


12 thoughts on “Organizing All That Paper

  1. Hi!
    I am getting back into the finance binder thing…I used to do something like it and it fell by the wayside!
    Can you please share about the tab dividers with pockets and what each one is? I can see the first one is “Household”… How do you keep track of what you spend? I really want to get a handle on what goes where, but it is extremely daunting to think of writing it all down.
    Thank you so very much!

    1. The other tabs are: Medical, Education, Auto, Insurance, and Taxes. I try to keep broad categories so that I’m not picking apart my receipts into micro categories. Household is the main catch all. I used to have detailed categories, but like you said, it became a daunting task to pick apart my receipts! I now use these charts to help me sort out my yearly expenses from my monthly ones, and to list my expenses in each category.
      Hope that helps. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Rachel – I love the pocket in the binder with the calculator, etc. Those items always seem to “run off” even if I keep my paperwork at my desk. I will be making my own binder! It will be prettier than my current stack of papers on my desk corner. Great ideas!

    1. A box folder for art and craft work, that sounds interesting. What exactly is that? I have a separate folder to store all the kids’ extra-large art projects. It’s just a poster board folded in half and stapled at the sides.

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