Friday, March 29, 2013

Organizing Your File Folders/Mail: Spring Cleaning Week

Today concludes my spring cleaning series. I want to tell you about organizing file folders and mail/kids' school paperwork. These are areas that I definitely needed to get organized!

Let's start with file folders. I know it is important to keep records, and as I age, I realize more and more how we have to go back to reference old records--mostly W2s and tax information, 401K history, refinance paperwork, and mortgage and bank statements. I file more than just those items though--utility bills, cell phone statements, pay stubs, College Invest statements, credit card bills, and more. I'm up in the air as to whether I need to file these but while I'm filing the important paperwork, I figured I might as well keep these papers too "just in case."

Are you like me in that you despise filing? It doesn't take long if I keep up with it monthly but I usually only do it quarterly. This is because our filing drawers are in our basement. I usually pay a bill, save the paperwork and stack it at the top of my stairs to take in a huge pile to the file folder area. Our file folders were finally busting open from 3 years of filing. I invested in a file box at Staples ($10 for 4 boxes) and dumped our old folders into it like so. I know this isn't breaking news, most people eventually do this but I finally got around to doing it!

I then used my handy label maker (I've used this tool now for three spring cleaning projects this week!) to create new file folder labels. I then filed all our paperwork going back to January 2013 in new file folders. Ahhhh....everything looks so much cleaner and I don't mind filing though I'm sure I'll still only do it quarterly. The box with the old folders goes into our storage area and I don't have to look at those records again unless I absolutely have to.

Now, onto kids' school paperwork....My old solution for handling paperwork that comes from the school that I have to sign or deal with was to place it on a large plate in our kitchen. That solution was working fine but when I was at Staples looking for file boxes, I discovered the Martha Stewart area!

I started looking through her collection and realized I could solve some of our school paperwork and homework dilemmas with one solution. My kids have homework every day. They sit at our breakfast bar and start their homework while I make dinner. MiniB is in kindergarten and usually needs glue, tape, crayons, or scissors to complete his homework. He'll usually go get these items and then we'll put them away once he's done. Not anymore. We bought this beauty:

With this handy set up, I can store homework stuff (pencils, scissors, erasures, glue, tape, calculator, note pad). I also sometimes have to write notes to their teachers so it's easy to have lined sticky notes. They also come in handy to leave my family notes if needed. This is a good area to leave the kids some emergency numbers if they ever need them. I love this Martha Stewart storage station! We are no longer dragging stuff out of their rooms or my desk only to have to put them back and drag them out the next day again.

Ok, so now onto mail organization. I have always used the below to store my upcoming bills. It is simple and works great. No issues there.

Where I struggle is where to put coupons and magazines (because it often takes me a month or so to get to a magazine). We get monthly coupons for various restaurants, Jo-Anns, Bed Bath & Beyond, Clarks, the oil-changing place, the grocery store, and so much more. I've always just shoved them into a desk drawer. The problem with that is my desk is nowhere near our garage or front door. Often when I'm going on an errand, I forget about the coupons I have and if I do, I have to sort through a bunch of outdated ones to find the one I'm looking for. I found this shelf ledge turned upside down is a good solution. I can now see my coupons and magazines and keep them updated. I know what I have and it is in a place that I can look quickly before I get into the car to go. And I can grab a magazine if I know I'm going to be sitting around waiting for one of my kids at piano or soccer. Easy peasy!

Thanks for visiting me this week as I've spring cleaned. I'm tired. Time to go enjoy ourselves for spring break!


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