The Paper Monster

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Do you have a paper monster living at your house?

You may not have ever seen him, but you’ll notice (or maybe not notice) the mess he leaves behind.

We collect all kinds of papers. Bills, statements, menus from take out places, school or activity related papers, magazines – you name it.

We have piles of papers everywhere. Magazines we want to save, newspapers we haven’t read. Bills to pay, things to RSVP to, stuff we’re not sure if we should keep or not. Like for instance, how long do you keep cancelled checks?

It’s the paper monster’s doing.

So how can we undo his work?

Here are a few ideas:

Look for piles of papers around your house. I bet somewhere there is a pile of bills to be paid. Sort through them really quick. Are there any that you’ve paid already? (It happens.) If so, toss them.

Now if you pay your bills by mail, find a nice container to put them in. Something pretty if you can. If not, a box will do. Sort them by due date. Hint: write the due date and amount due on the outside of the envelope. You might want to add your checkbook, stamps, and a calculator, too. Voila! An instant bill paying center!

If you pay bills online, put the amount due and who it’s for on the proper date on your calendar. You may want to keep a special calendar by your computer for this. I would also suggest adding account numbers and log in information for each bill. Now you can toss those bills away!

Do you have a file cabinet for things you need to keep? If not, find one. I started with a small 2 drawer one from Office Depot; now I wish I had bought one bigger. You can buy small ones you can carry, too.

Now what do you put in it?

Important things like birth certificates, social security cards, and marriage licenses should ideally be stored in a lock box at the bank or a fire proof box at home. I have to tell you, though, mine are in my file cabinet.

I also keep retirement account statements, records for our cars like titles, and warranties for things for the house. I have a series of files set up for the house. Each room in the house has it’s own file, plus there’s one for outside and one labeled “whole house”.

The warranty for the stove is filed under “kitchen” and the one for the roof is under “whole house”. When we owned a pool, that was filed under “outside”.

For money related papers, check this website for how long to keep them.

For other papers, ask yourself one question: if I lose this, how easily could I replace it? Then toss accordingly.

If you’re hoarding magazines, take some time to go through them. Find a nice basket and a file folder (check out See Jane Work) and then go through the magazines and rip out anything that you want to save for further reading.

If you’re like me and like to save pictures of ideas for your home, get a scrapbook and paste them in there. Or better yet, sign up for Pinterest and save them online.

Once you get your paper monster house trained, be sure to avoid “accidents”. Sort your mail over the wastebasket and take some time each month to go through and keep things under control.

That paper monster will be gone in no time.

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Lacy Estelle

Lacy Estelle is the writer of and the Podcast host for An ADD Woman.

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