How I Keep Up On My Mail, Bills, and Receipts - Part 1 - How I Deal With The Mailbox

5:55 PM

Today I want to start a little series on how I keep up to date on papers that come into our home.  How I handle what comes in the mail, how I track our purchases and handle receipts, and how I pay our bills.  I don't really get much in the way of school paper anymore, but I will also share how I have stored some of the important school papers that my boys have had.

Getting behind on being organized with my receipts makes me feel out of control.  When they start to accumulate it really stresses me out and I feel overwhelmed.  This is what I try to make a point of doing to keep me at peace with all the paper.  And yes, sometimes I stumble and have to catch up :)

Part 1 // The Mailbox

When I get my mail I quickly go through each piece.  Touch it all once.  I make 5 quick piles.

Bills and Papers That Need Attention
Catalogs and Magazines to Read
Mail for Family Members

I have a trash pile which includes all the flyers and junk I don't want.  I also toss in all of the catalogs that I have no interest in looking at.  Just because it lands in your mailbox doesn't mean it requires your time.  Sometimes magazines send me a free copy.  If I'm not interested I feel zero guilt for not looking at it.   Seriously just plain toss it out.  My husband was watching me go through the mail one day, and he had no idea at the amount I quickly get rid of.  He really thought I read or went through everything that came in the box.  It was kinda funny.  You can do this step right at your recycling bin or trash container to save yourself the step of walking over to the bin.  

Shred anything sensitive with your information on it - like credit cards offers, etc.

I open the bills keeping just the bill and envelope.  Discard any other paper that is included.  Usually whatever else is inside does not need reading.

I make a pile of any catalogs or magazines that I want to read.  I usually look at them while having my breakfast or when making dinner.  You can even take them with you if you have an appointment somewhere.  It seems like if you bring something to do you never have to wait.  Funny how that happens.  If I'm not super busy when I open the mail and have just a couple to look through I look right then.

As I go through catalogs I dog ear pages that interest me - if the catalog is really good - like let's say Serena and Lily or J. Crew or Anthropologie - I  might just keep it until I get the next one.  If I like an item or two in the catalog I will tear out those pages, and when I am at my computer I will look the item up online.  I then add it to an online site where you can store items of interest.  These are the perfect solution because it saves the picture of the item and the link back to it.  Much better to store the information there than in my head or in stacks of paper on my table.  After I save it online I toss the catalog and/or torn out page.  A few good online sites that I know of and use are Pinterest, Evernote, and Olioboard.  

Lastly, I  keep important mail that came for my kids or husband.  They can deal with theirs when they get home.

My office is downstairs so I have a wire basket at the top of the stairs where I put any bills or papers that need attention, and any receipts that need to be entered into the computer.  If family members have credit card receipts they put them in there too.

I hope that all makes sense.  Please let me know if you have any questions or any tips that you use and love to keep incoming papers under control.  I always find it interesting to learn how people organize their lives.  Anything we can share that might make life easier is a good idea.  

Next, in Part 2, I will share how I track our expenses and pay bills.  

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