How to Organize Bills and Other Important Stuff
Paperwork has a way of piling up, getting lost, or slipping through the cracks, if you don't have a solid storage plan. We've rounded up the best way to keep your bills paid on time, your documents safe, and everything else neatly sorted.
By: Ellen Foord
Did you know you’re supposed to keep seven years of tax filings? Yep, that’s right. Seven Years. Keep things organized and in the right place by using accordion folders to store each year’s tax return, along with supporting documents. As each year goes by, shred the return from eight years ago, and put the current year’s return in the accordion folder. A document box in a closet is a great place to store these, since you only touch them once a year.
Paperwork that needs to be filed once a year can be tricky. What month was it you renew your pet permit with the city? When are the car tags up for renewal? When does the renter's insurance expire? Keep those papers in a specific folder so you can always refer to them, and put the renew date on your calendar, including a reminder on your phone two weeks out so you can get that paperwork completed and mailed out on time.
Keep Your Checkbook With Your Stamps
How often do you go to pay the bills and have to spend 15 minutes hunting down your checkbook, stamps and the bills? Avoid that by keeping everything in one centralized location, organized in a desktop organizer.
Keep Precious Items Safe From Fire
Now that you have legit “official documents,” it’s time to enter the world of fireproof document storage. Protect birth certificates, passports, deeds, heirloom jewelry, social security cards and so on in a fireproof chest, which you can find at big box stores or online. As a bonus, having all of those documents safely stored in once place eliminates that paralyzing moment of panic where you can’t remember where you stored your passport the night before a trip.
Set Up A Folder System
Know what’s less fun than doing taxes? Sorting through a shoebox of receipts. Do yourself a favor and create a system to store each type of receipt you get, so you can get the max number of tax deductions at the end of the year. Even better, each month, add them up and include the total in a spreadsheet, so all you have to do at the end of the year is add up twelve months of subtotals, instead of 365 days worth of jumbled receipts.
Keep Track of Appliance Manuals
It’s all fun and games until an appliance breaks or a piece of furniture gets recalled. All of a sudden that manual you tossed out with the box is looking pretty valuable. Grab an extra accordion folder and use it to store manuals for reference.
Prevent Paying the Bills Late
Paid the power bill late last month? Late payments can affect your credit score! Create a mini binder to store bills and keep track of due dates. Divide the binder into five weekly sections and as soon as a bill comes in, stick it in the week when you need to send it out. Each Sunday, gather the bills that need to be paid that week and send them out.
Keep Outgoing Bills Close to the Door
OK, so you gathered up your checkbook and stamps, created a binder to know when to pay each bill, but if the stamped envelopes never make it to the mailbox, all of your effort was wasted. Make sure those suckers make it out on time by clipping them together and hanging them on the same hook as your keys. That way, you can’t get out the door without grabbing the bills, too.
Ditch the Paper Receipts
Paper storage not your thing? No problem. There’s an app for that. Genius Scan is one of our favorites, but there are several to choose from. Snap a pic of your receipt, then save and store for later. Easy peasey.
Keep Time-Sensitive Papers At Your Fingertips
Need to remember to send out Great Aunt Edna’s birthday card on time? Set up a folder system for all the non-bill paperwork that needs to go out each month, ranging from birthday cards to school permission slips to party invitations that need an RSVP.