Organizing Paperwork

When Laura posted about a home file system makeover I knew I had to participate. Last year I ditched the typical “file cabinet” system and changed over to binders. I really like using binders because I am able to find what I am looking for without flipping through a huge file box.

I use a binder for each area and then whole punch the paperwork and save it in my binder. I feel like I am able to “see” things better with this system. The binders are stored on a shelf over the desk in my kitchen. I have binders for banking, health care, investments, and insurance. I also have smaller folders that hold important receipts from the year, location specific information, and one misc -what in the world should I do with this stuff that I can’t throw away- folder.

My only problem with this system is getting it into the binders! As you can see from my desk, things kind of sit there…. and sit there….

In fact, since this desk is in the kitchen everyone likes to leave stuff on it, like a box of wipes!

Since we moved three times in two years my files dropped to the bottom of my “to do” list. I was just jamming stuff in the folders hoping I would have time to organize it later. Later has finally come and, even though it took me two nights I finally organized my binders and my desk, and shredded enough documents to fill a mattress.

Here are some pictures for those of you who still are holding on the myth that I have it all together….

This folder… “the move” folder was from our move 15 months ago. Time to go.

I unloaded the cabinet above the desk.

Pile to shred #1

Pile to shred #2

Fun Fact: Did you know that you can use your shredded paper as filler in the bottom of your pots or mulch beds. Don’t throw it away recycle it!

Finally I was finished. It really felt good to clean out the binders and organize my paperwork.

The folder on the right side of my desk is now my “to file” folder. I will put important papers in it during the month and then at the end of the month I will file it in my binders. I hope this will help me stay on top of things for 2009!

Another thought I had before going to bed last night, living a debt free life really makes filing easy! We only receive one paper bill each month and that is for internet. Our phone and cell phone bill are delivered via the internet. We receive our bank statements via the internet too. Because we pay cash or use the debit card for all purchases I don’t have credit card statements to file and keep track of either. And no pesky user agreements that fill up my binders. Debt free living has really simplified my life!


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  1. I use a binder for all my recipes. It works great! I love the full-page views of everything. There’s plenty of room to make extra notes if I need to also.

    Great Idea!

  2. Thanks for this! I have been trying to come up with a “system” that would work for me, and I think I just found it! What a great idea. Now I just need the motivation to do it!

  3. I never thought of using binders. What a great idea. I have a few binders hanging around. I think when I feel better (awful morning sickness) I will switch over to this system.

  4. After reading your post, I realized that I’ve slowly moved from files to binders also. Everytime I have something new to file, I’ve made a binder for it (Bank Info, College Funds, Health Insurance). Maybe it’s time to make the switch completely!

  5. Great idea on having paperless bills! I tried to convince dh of this when we first got here but he didn’t like it even though he rarely sees them. LOL! I might approach him again now.

  6. Paperless bills are awesome as long as you keep up with them! Also, does anyone else think it’s a little funny that the only paper bill that doesn’t come by the internet is your…internet bill? 😛

  7. I use binders for some of my filing. It’s a great strategy! And I love the way you were able to clear off the countertop!

  8. That looks wonderful! I have binders for everything. I love them!

  9. WOW! Good stuff! I am going to be debt free in about two months and I am VERY EXCITED about it. 🙂

  10. Wow! You really did some great work. This is my first time here (dropping over from the org junkie) and I just wanted to say that I LOVE your title bar on the top of your blog. It’s a-dor-a-ble!!!

  11. You’ve done an amazing job, well done! It looks brilliant 🙂

  12. I love binders. That looks great!

  13. I am LOVING the binder idea! Never thought about it, and my kitchen desk area, looks much like your “before” photo. *sigh* I just spent yesterday trying to dig up shot records and birth certs for the kids’ sports leagues apps. If they had been neatly tucked away in binders, this would have been much less of a hassle!

  14. The binders look great. I contemplated going to binders but I think for now we shall see if the filing cabinet – now organized will work out!

  15. Great Job! I love to use binders as well!
    It is great – the reduced amount of paper being debt free – I love it!!!!

  16. The binder idea is very interesting. I may have to think about switching over. I just had a file freak out moment earlier today … not that I’ve done anything about it yet.

    And, kudos for suggesting recycling shredded paper. We don’t actually shred our stuff anymore, DH uses it to start the garage wood stove instead. 🙂

  17. I love that this shows another filing method. Great job getting it back together.

    Thanks for sharing it with us!


  18. I have been trying to figure out a new system using binders – I have been thinking about making the switch since cleaning out the filing cabinet a couple of weeks ago. I have an entire packed down garbage pail full of shredded paper – I never thought to use it in the garden – great tip! Thanks for the binder inspiration! It looks great!

  19. You’ve convinced me. I’m going to switch to binders. Plus, I would love to learn more about living debt free so I will be “haunting” your blog for a little bit longer… thanks for sharing. Becki

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