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    How do other people deal with all the paperwork clutter in our lives?

    Overall we're pretty good with clutter - main living spaces, closets, kitchen, garage, basement - all good. But my office has piles of paper everywhere!

    Every so often I go through and shred a ton of stuff, but I never quite finish, and then the piles keep growing until next time. I call companies (repeatedly!) to be taken off mailing lists and we're opted-out of credit card offers, but it's still a constant bombardment. I try to toss what I can directly in the recycle bin in the garage before even making it into the house, but if things have our names on them I prefer to bring them in for shredding. Many of our bills and statements are electronic. If possible, I don't want it coming into the house in paper form.

    I probably keep too many receipts and have "I need to keep this" over-tendencies. I'm getting better.

    But I still feel like the paperwork multiplies while we're sleeping at night, like gremlins.

    No seriously, I know I could avoid this by doing a better job of keeping up regularly as the stuff comes in, but frankly I'm usually too exhausted after work (if I'm not outright laid low by a chronic illness I have) and we're usually busy with other things on the weekends.

    Today is raining, so I've shredded 6 bags of paperwork and hope to get a few more done before the weekend is over. Little by little. Suggestions are welcome!
    Last edited by HappySaver; 10-04-2014, 01:44 PM.

    #2
    For dealing with incoming mail, I have a pair of shredding scissors that I keep right next to the garage can. When junk mail with my name and address comes in I shred it and toss it right away. I've often thought of getting an electric shredder, but if I kept it in the office, I imagine I'd have your problem. Scissors might take a bit more work, but I think the convenience of them makes it easier to keep the clutter under control.

    Comment


      #3
      I like this topic and I was also intending to start a thread about it asking if others could shed some light on how they deal with it as well. I'm starting to get overridden with paperwork myself. I was thinking of transferring and converting some paper clutter into a cloud account or other electronic storage (ie, SSD storage, burn it to CD/DVD, flash drive, hard drive, or other electronic storage) but it would be too time consuming. I have important paper documents stored in 3 ring binders, folders, etc. and the stacks are getting larger and dust starting to collect. Most of my bank statements, credit card bills, and utility bills are electronic but not all and I think I should start here by making everything exclusively electronic which should diminish the paper work but I have to admit that recieving the paper does also help in keeping better track of things for me at least. Kind of in a pickle here (ha-ha).


      Another example, I dollar cost average buying a little gold/silver every couple of months. I now have about 30 pages of invoice receipts stored in a 3 ring binder. I save the receipts because it's helpful to see the spot price that I paid at the time of puchase. I'm thinking of storing these receipts to a flash drive in order to get rid of some excess paper. This should be a rather quick process and I might just do this.
      Last edited by QuarterMillionMan; 10-04-2014, 08:07 PM. Reason: edit

      Comment


        #4
        I don't get the shredding things with your name and address on it. If you own your home property records have all that information online so it's not a secret. We maybe shred 1 or 2 bags worth of stuff a YEAR with little or no clutter.

        We do electronic billing for everything. Occasionally we'll get a medical bill or mortgage receipt in the mail. I just pay it and toss it in our fireproof safe, then every couple months organize it (or if it seems like there's something discrepant).

        We opted out of the DMA choice stuff, and every piece of junk mail I call up and ask to be taken off the list. Many days now we get little to no mail. Even if it doesn't get taken off, sitting on the phone for 5 or 10 minutes costs call centers a ton of money so might help disincentive them from continuing advertising if enough people call. People think it's strange that I do this, but it takes no effort. A quick google for the number, and I just pop it on speaker phone while doing little chores around the house.


        For receipts, I rarely buy stuff in stores anymore, so most of them are online, and the one I do (lowe's / home depot) you don't need to save the receipt, they can look it up by credit card. I keep an envelope in my desk for any receipt I might need.


        When in doubt, always toss it!

        Comment


          #5
          I employ the scan what's important, back up my hard drives frequently, and pitch the paper method.


          I have a software program that catalogs my eBooks. I save the files I've scanned as PDF files and use that software to tag them and put them into a searchable database.

          I know many people aren't comfortable keeping important information in electronic form, but I just don't have room in our house for file cabinets full of paper.

          Comment


            #6
            While I pay all bills via our bank's electronic system since that service started, I'm not confident about getting all bills electronically. What if I screw up and miss one! It's mostly because I have an 'orphan' investment a/c at an out-of-the-way financial institution that now sends only electronic statements each month...but I can't find it! I'll be there next month and plan to take my laptop so someone can demo access!

            I'm with edg, our address is easily available so promo and junk mail is dropped in a recycle tote right at the door. I think we save way too much paperwork. It helps to develop a criteria based on your own experiences of what you use, and how easy you make it to get what is needed when it's needed.

            Our receipts for expensive/warranty items are stapled or taped to it's manual, slid into a page protector in a 3 ring binder. Receipts that have potential for dispute, return, problem etc. gets dropped in an empty kleenex box retained for that purpose. Anytime I need to find a specific receipt, I pitch those too old or un-needed. While I hate filing, I do add monthly financial reports whether I've printed or been sent, first hi-lighting any bought/sold transactions in a D ring binder. A largish zip bag, hole punched addition holds the buy/sell invoices for the year.

            I hate filing so there's a paper ream sized box under my desk for stuff that must be retained to be filed...whenever it's too full. Tuesday is 'deskday,' pay bills, plan tasks, prepare schedules, update/sync electronic & paper calendar etc. I do file bills paid in just one hanging file when paid so DH can locate. At year's end any that need to be retained will go in order to archive box or tax file. Remainder bagged for the next Shred Day at our nearby shopping plaza. [Do you have this in your community? The bank brings in a huge truck with commercial shredding machines, free service, your choice drop off papers or wait a turn to DIY]

            Hanging Medical file has individual files for each [4] family members. There are a dozen hanging files for auto maintenance, Condo, Income tax, Insurance and clippings/items of interest.

            Comment


              #7
              In our home office, we have a trash can, a recycling bag, and a shredding bag so stuff gets sorted into those. The recycling bag goes out whenever it fills up. The shredding bag gets worked on from time to time when I feel like it. Trash can gets emptied every week typically.

              As for papers that I keep, I have 2 main file drawers on my desk with hanging files for each company/account/purpose and the bills, statements, and reports get filed into the appropriate place as soon as I review them. Then every January, I clear out the stuff from the prior year once I have the year-end statements. I save that year-end statement long term but that doesn't amount to that much paper.

              I think the key is not letting stuff pile up before going through it. At least once a week, carve out a time when you sort through what has come in that week and get it recycled, shredded, or filed so that there aren't piles of papers lying around. And, as you mentioned, be more selective in what you keep.
              Steve

              * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
              * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
              * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

              Comment


                #8
                any sensitive documents go directly into the wood stove....even in the summer (my detached garage is also heated with wood)
                Gunga galunga...gunga -- gunga galunga.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by HappySaver View Post
                  Overall we're pretty good with clutter - main living spaces, closets, kitchen, garage, basement - all good. But my office has piles of paper everywhere!

                  Every so often I go through and shred a ton of stuff, but I never quite finish, and then the piles keep growing until next time. I call companies (repeatedly!) to be taken off mailing lists and we're opted-out of credit card offers, but it's still a constant bombardment. I try to toss what I can directly in the recycle bin in the garage before even making it into the house, but if things have our names on them I prefer to bring them in for shredding. Many of our bills and statements are electronic. If possible, I don't want it coming into the house in paper form.

                  I probably keep too many receipts and have "I need to keep this" over-tendencies. I'm getting better.

                  But I still feel like the paperwork multiplies while we're sleeping at night, like gremlins.

                  No seriously, I know I could avoid this by doing a better job of keeping up regularly as the stuff comes in, but frankly I'm usually too exhausted after work (if I'm not outright laid low by a chronic illness I have) and we're usually busy with other things on the weekends.

                  Today is raining, so I've shredded 6 bags of paperwork and hope to get a few more done before the weekend is over. Little by little. Suggestions are welcome!
                  I have a simplified filing system: 1 folder for each letter of the alphabet. If I'm unsure if i need it, I toss it. I save all receipts if possible.

                  Makes it easy to fight clutter.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    The mail gets brought in daily.

                    Junk goes in the trash/recycle immediately.

                    I think this is the key to success right here. Bring stuff in, process it immediately, even if it means doing important follow-up work later. A huge stack of mail can be reduced to a single piece of paper (i.e. a bill) and all the other stuff-- opened envelopes, advertisements, junk mail gets discarded. It doesn't take much thought at all.

                    For important stuff that needs follow-up, it goes in a single pile on my otherwise clean desk next to the computer and phone.

                    For important stuff that needs filing, I keep a cabinet and it's organized by account, category, etc depending on need. I also keep an archive-- different drawer/cabinet, and I try to go through that at least once a year to destroy stuff I truly don't need anymore.

                    The idea is, I never want to have anything sitting around unopened or not dealt with for too long, and that's the ONLY stuff I want to be visible. Everything else needs a place ASAP, and if it doesn't need a place, it's headed for the round file. I hate, hate, HATE stacks of paper sitting around.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      We immediately trash everything that is junk mail. Bills go in the drawer, and when they get paid (almost always electronically), the paperwork gets "PAID" written on it with the date, and it goes into a basket. Statements, likewise, go into the basket as well.

                      Every month or so, I take the basket stack and file it in a filing cabinet, with one folder per payee. It is easy to find used filing cabinets on CL. All you have to do is add hanging file folders.

                      Then every couple years, I purge old bills by taking them to my town's annual document shred event, which is free.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        All good ideas of ways to stay on top of clutter. HappySaver, I would start implementing the ideas that you think would work for you. As far as the mountains of paper you feel you have currently, a little at a time is the best approach. One folder, one small stack at at time. If your files are crowded with the old, consider starting there first. Likely the oldest files are the ones you least likely need. Old utility statements, check stubs, old manuals...are some of the easiest to toss and let go of.

                        If you find items to keep in the process, set up files for those as you go, if you don't already have one. If you want to wait on purchasing files, at least paper clip and put a note on the top of each type of file. I know if I was to start working on my files, I would need to set up a file for a new bank account we opened.

                        A little at a time, and definitely don't be afraid to toss and shred!
                        My other blog is Your Organized Friend.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I would not/ do not shred everything. Most things I just rip in half and toss. Shredding takes more time and is reserved for more sensitive info. Organization wise I am fairly lazy. We throw everything to be filed in a brown paper bag. I sort and file maybe once a year. Mostly we try to keep electronic files. Mail is sorted (mostly tossed) daily or weekly.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Thank you all. Really good advice, and now I just need to follow it.

                            This week I tossed 7 paper grocery bags full of paperwork - combination of un-filed crap and excess from the file cabinet. I can now see parts of my desk and I have room to keep filing. I still have a few more piles to work through. This is about the point at which I usually give up. I did motivate myself to work for a while after work last night - that's a good accomplishment for me. I'm also fighting my OCD tendencies to keep stuff I don't need and to shred everything.

                            My goal is to keep working through it a little bit a time, but without waiting too long, and get 100% caught up, to make it easy going forward.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by HappySaver View Post
                              Thank you all. Really good advice, and now I just need to follow it.

                              This week I tossed 7 paper grocery bags full of paperwork - combination of un-filed crap and excess from the file cabinet. I can now see parts of my desk and I have room to keep filing. I still have a few more piles to work through. This is about the point at which I usually give up. I did motivate myself to work for a while after work last night - that's a good accomplishment for me. I'm also fighting my OCD tendencies to keep stuff I don't need and to shred everything.

                              My goal is to keep working through it a little bit a time, but without waiting too long, and get 100% caught up, to make it easy going forward.
                              That sounds great! Congrats on the progress so far.

                              You should join my decluttering thread: http://www.savingadvice.com/forums/g...ng-thread.html
                              Steve

                              * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
                              * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
                              * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

                              Comment

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