Spring Cleaning Series – Your Command Center

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Many of us find ourselves frantically looking for a bill, a tax record, that permission slip for our child and more because we have formed the habit of stacking. We have stacks all over the house for “things to get to tomorrow”. For any home to run smoothly, it is most important for paperwork, receipts and bills to be in order and easily accessible. We call this your command center and it keeps you on top of your game. And, it’s ok if you do not have a desk, because you can find nice file boxes that can easily be stored and pulled out when needed.

So as we begin our spring cleaning, the first step is to create 4 bins, boxes or bags labeled: keep, recycle, shred and trash. Then, walk around your entire home and gather all paperwork, mail and junk mail stacked and stuffed in drawers. Then separate accordingly. When complete, set aside your keep pile for file preparation and dispose of the other piles properly. (Note: if you do not own a shredder, you can take documents to an office supply store.)

Having a good filing system is key. We have outlined some of the more important files that you should create, but lifestyles and situations vary so you may need more or less. At least quarterly, properly discard papers no longer needed. With access to many of your statements and other docs on line, you can make the bare minimum in files. But for the files you do make, use a label maker or black sharpie in clear and neat handwriting to make your files. Why? Because neatness attracts the desire to be organized. Below are some suggestions for files to create. (As you go through your keep pile, you may need to make some additional files.)

  • A file for incoming bills to be paid. Keep this file in front for easy access.
  • Individual family member files to house copies of social security cards, birth certificates, and personal information that is important.
  • Additional files for each family member labeled: School and Medical
  • Pets to house their medical records
  • Family insurance information regarding coverage & record of claims filed
  • Cars – to house repairs and maintenance
  • Service used to run your home: security, cable, cell phones, pest, etc.
  • Home repairs and improvements
  • A tax file for the current year to collect receipts and all other tax records needed to complete your income taxes. This is super important!

– In addition to, or in lieu of, a safe deposit box, purchase a home safe and create files for each member of your family to house important paperwork like original social security cards, passports, birth certificates and such. Also create files for Notes Paid, Home Owner’s/Flood Insurance Declaration Pages and other financial documents you deem private and/or important that may be time consuming to replace.

-We recommend a separate file box for home manuals and instruction booklets as they can take up a lot of room and very seldom need to be pulled out.

From now on, when you get the mail, touch it once. Go through your mail over your recycle bin and eliminate what you do not need. File any bills and “keep” items. (Updating your calendar with due dates is also helpful as you go through mail.)

Earth Friendly tips to reduce your mail:
• Decrease your mail by requesting paperless billing and pay bills online.
• Go here to find out how to eliminate all the excess catalogs, credit card solicitations, and more!

Follow this link to see what papers to keep, and for how long, and what papers to shred.

Happy filing!

Liz & Kari

( photo source – Apartment Therapy )

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