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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday Tips: Organizing Your Bills & Paperwork

Tuesday Tips: Organizing Bills & Paperwork
by Kristen Kanoski

Filing bills and papers can be an overwhelming task. If you have the right tools and a system that works, that is easy, filing bills and papers can be a snap. My favorite system of filing came from a book I read called, Organizing from the Inside Out, by Julie Morgenstern. Chapter 10 is the chapter you want to read, it is called Household Information Centers. It breaks down everything, from zones like mail & paper flow, bill paying, filing & record keeping, and so forth. She writes how to sort, papers, recipes, photos, organize your financial & vital records, and lifestyle paper work. The best is the “How long should I keep certain papers”, this was a huge help. I always kept everything, because well, I didn’t know how long I should keep it. From financial papers, receipts, tax records and vital records, she has a keep date.

I have three filing cabinets in my office, one in my desk which houses all our mortgage documents, heath and life insurance and taxes. I do that because I know my husband will be able to find them. I have a two drawer filing cabinet that in the top drawer is, yikes, all my warranties and instructions for everything that we have in the house and all my rebates and printed orders from the internet. In the bottom drawer is our resume, past newsletter from two professional organizations and all my conference related materials that I want to keep. The last filing cabinet is four drawers, the top drawer is my bill paying drawer, next is my family drawer, and the last two are my husbands.

I realize that not everyone can have that many filing cabinets, you might need less or more, or even just a simple portable file box, and it just depends on your needs. You will need to have a few things to help you file so that it will be super easy to maintain your system. You will need Hanging folders, file folders that have a left, center and right tabs (which I love to buy both of these in different colors), and folder labels.
First break down your paperwork into categories such as bill paying, insurance and personal, for like vacation/travel info.

The first set of folders will be Bills. I have one file for Bills to be paid for the month and bills to be paid the next month. Use a left tab for this folder. Then I have a file for each of my credit card accounts; use a center tab for these folders. Then I have folders for each of my bank accounts; use a right tab for these folders.

I know a lot of people pay bills on-line. Here is my suggestion to help you keep track on how much you paid and on what day. Take your center tab file and on the inside of the cover put a sheet of paper, use tape, staple or paper clip. When you pay your bill write across the paper, the date, how much you paid and your reference or authorization number. Then if there is any question with that account you have all your information in one folder.

The second set of folders is Insurance. I know everyone has such difference insurance I hope this covers everyone. We have a Health Care spending account and this how I keep our files. Left tab, bills to be submitted. Center tab, bills submitted. Right tab, explanation of benefits for the year, I toss them after all bills have been paid and health care account is spent. This is usually done by Feb.1, that way if there are any questions I have this useless information. Another left tab may be for those of you who still need Blank claim forms. You can use this system as well for your Homeowner's Insurance, Renters Insurance, and Car Insurance. Make sure you have your current policy information in the file as well.

The third set of folders is vacation/travel. Left tab put your Frequent flyer reward program, first airlines then hotels. Center tab, you can have several, like for day trips, weekend trips, Spa day, Conferences. Right tab, I keep my past vacations, with just a few things, if I went somewhere at that destination that was helpful like a map or restaurant listing.

I would suggest checking out from the library or buying Julie Morgenstern’s book, Organizing from the Inside Out. It is an easy, plus you can skip right to Chapter 10. Good luck.

Kristen Kanoski was a professional nanny/household manager for twenty years. Organizing is something that comes easy and is fun for her. She has been married for six years to an extremely unorganized hubby, whom she still loves, and is currently a SAHM to a active and silly two year old boy.

You can read Kristen's Blog, Beyond Bottles, on life with babies beyond the bottle. She provides reviews of products, and how to organize your nursery.


Buffi March 16, 2010 at 12:09 PM  

Love it Kristin, especially the disclaimer about the unorganized hubby!

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