New year, new paperwork UGH!

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

We started chatting about dealing with the inevitable and painful piles of paper. Some good ideas on the early January posts there.

I stuffed all my Xmas gift receipts into one pocket of my purse, handy for the returns. . I then keep them in an envelope in my dresser drawer for one year. I really like the suggestion of having a one year folder, that you dump the old when you get the new.

We keep more than one utility bill in order to track year to year usage but that is probably just being silly. Our bill does show "last year at this month' readings.

Lets have some more ideas!

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Another good saying is place for everything and everything in its place. My places are usually catch alls--doesn't work, it just catches ALL.

Athens, PA


I have many 'places' too.... it does not work,which is why I need a system.

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

I have a file cabinet with a file for each store or company I buy from.
Also have 2 spreadsheets. One for checking accounts, keeps a running balance as you enter checks & deposits. I can then check the balances against the online bank statement
The other spreadsheet, each item bought is entered. I have 2 columns for what the item is for; example, farm, cabinet shop, house, so forth. These match the categories on income tax forms. All you need to do is hit sort & add up each category.
New year, new sheets.
The receipts are then stored for the year & start a fresh set of files.
Sure nice when an item goes on sale after your purchase of it. Dig out the receipt & go get a refund. Most stores will give it to you.


Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

Must add; I post everything the first thing in the morning for the day after. You must do this to make it work!

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Bernie, you're a model of organization! Thanks for checking in!

So many of our dreaded tasks are seen as taking too much time. But really doesn't it often end up just being shifted time? A few minutes a day VS an hour later.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

I have been thinking of putting my shredded paper into the compost instead of recycling but my compost pile is huge already so I really don't need to add to that pile. I always keep my Christmas receipts till the next year but really after a month or so most of my purchases wouldn't go back to the store anyway. I have tax papers and old stuff from 20 years ago. Last year I asked Ric to find me a shredder and I did start on some of the old files but then I ended up busy with other things and never finished. Now would be a good time to start on that pile again.

Near Lake Erie, NW, PA(Zone 5a)

Holly that is called procrastination and it is a friend of mine. I don't know how many times I say I'll do that tomarrow. LOL

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I just read an article in New Yorker mag that discussed procrastination. Why is it so prevalent, when we are almost guaranteed to suffer for it??????? I do it ALL THE TIME.

The influx of estate paperwork forced me to be proactive and set up files. Plenty of them, boldly labeled.

I have a small drawer full of nonsense in our family rolltop desk. I procrastinate on going thru it and making any decisions. Most is either mementos now, or pure recycle/trash. AHA, I need a memento place that I can sort into!! Maybe a bin for each kid and I can only keep what fits there.

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

I have a file cabinet, all receipts get immediately filed by month(insurance and real estate papers are in separate files)...then after new year transferred to a storage bin....after taxes are done paperwork gets shredded from the oldest which they say to hold on to 7 years worth(so the 8th year gets shredded)...

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

OH, MY! You are ALL talking about my life!!!! UGH!!!!

Procrastination is my middle name! One can only procrastinate until the deadline is in a day or two.
Then you have to buckle down and just DO IT!

Lets get a few facts straight here....ahemmm.....
1--I HATE paperwork! With a passion! I don't want to deal with it---I don't want to NOT deal with it.
And then I HAVE TO deal with it! I do--and I feel so relieved. Then I think of the other 99 unattended
things that have to be done--and I am swimming down "De-Nile".....
Here I also have a deep, 2-drawer. almost empty file cabinet. Why is it empty? Because I never make time
to start filing in it. That's why!

2--I have small plastic totes all over the floor here in my computer room. Five to be exact--
They are scattered here and there--so I don't trip on them.

--One holds all things medicare and such.

--One holds all things that have to do with Home Depot programs, Dental and Vision records,
regular medical reports, past surgeries, Workman's Comp stuff, unemployment records, etc....

--One holds statements and relevant info from my financial broker--and all the monthly statements
on my investments...Years worth! A sort of progression of anything that has had to do with financial records.
I KNOW it is futile to hold on to monthly reports, and Larry (my $$ man) tells me that
beginning and end of year reports is all I really need to keep. One of these days.....

--the 4th holds asst. records on medical, surgeries, and such. I think I actually started on this.
My goal is to have anything to do with a certain surgery in it's own folder. Seems I have about one a year!

--The last one holds OLD records of all our appliances and furniture purchases. You know THIS is old!

In my kitchen is another 2-drawer file cabinet. My TV sits on top of that. It holds all the banking stuff, all the assessments and property taxes, all the, utility bills paid, etc. basically, everything to do with NOW.

I will not embarrass you all, and myself, any further.....There is more. I think about it all as "organized chaos".
Organized b/c I know where most things are--chaos--because ALL of it needs attending to--shredding--
getting rid of old stuff, etc...

When I was married (20 years ago now)--my Husband did ALL the paperwork. I did not have to worry about
paying any bills of filing any taxes....It was all done!
It was one of the most frightening things when we divorced...OH, MY God! I was now responsible for it all!!!!
I almost cried the first time I filled up my car with gas and realized that I had to pay for it myself!

Other than the filing--I do OK. I don't owe anyone money--all bills are paid--The house stuff is filed
(in the file cabinet in the kitchen with my TV on top) BUT!!!!! generally--I am NOT happy about my
lack of attending to all that needs attending to. YET! I AM an organized person.....Such a dichotomy!!!

I seem to be "drowning" in unkempt and unfiled paperwork. Not a good feeling!

You know what/who is to blame???? DG! I spend too much of my available free time on here...
But--How could I ever live without you all??????

OH, receipts----I do not keep too many. Sometimes I keep receipts if I buy some plants at HD--as
they guarantee their live goods for a year.
Yes! There is a 30 day window if something goes on sale--and you paid full price. You will get the credit.
Just bring in the receipt.

I SO hope I will attend to some of this during the winter months when gardening is not an issue...
I also hope the same for all my zillion craft-projects that need to be finished.
BUT! That is a different Thread.....


Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

ah, Gita- I can just feel your pain! Here's a hug. You're not so different from loads of people out there. And you do better than many people too, even if you feel you're slacking.

In this house we really should buy a four drawer file cab and condense and re org our records. But that, DH is in control here. Can't toss w/o concensus. Consensus? sp? Does anyone else keep paystubs from 1972??? LOLOL

I have mostly quit clipping coupons as I used about one in a hundred.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

I DO keep old pay stubs. Can't tell you why--except, perhaps to see how things have progressed--or regressed...

Same for old tax returns. Old BG&E bills. WHY???? For comparison???? WHY?

Things are--what they are. NOW! Why save things that used to be--and will never be again?

All a rhetorical question.......Thanks for the hug! How I dream of a stae of mind in my life when everything
that I once started, would actually approach the "done" status.
I KNOW I will take all this to my grave. Then--my daughters will have to discard all I should have attended to
while I was alive and procrastinating.....


annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

Was multi-tasking last nite..watching a PBS special on the Bald Eagle and catching up on New Years posts here and on Facebook.

FB friend writes "Sometimes the best way to get from a to b is a leap of faith"

I watch the fledgling eaglets testing their wings in prep for their first flight and one nick named 'under dog' takes off and the photographer follows his first flight soaring into the sky on an updraft, maneuvering through tree tops and then skimming along the broad expanse of water to land on a log very awkwardly and almost fall off..

The narrator says something like ' the flights can be beautiful but the landings can be difficult for a while until the young eagle learns how it is done.'

For all of us venturing forth (or procrastinating doing so or taking our time getting in) to this 2011 newness Happy Landings. Judy

Sand Springs (Tulsa), OK(Zone 7a)

Gita ....... I like the idea of just waiting and letting the kids take care of clearing out. LOL

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)


coleup- that's probably a big part of procrastinating- Fear of failure, or of wasted effort or the effort to learn a new way. Beautiful description of the eagle's flight and landing!

Gita- I'm guilty of some of that. Not pay stubs, tho. But there's the temptation of keeping these tidbits of info. If you have tax returns you have your pay record for those years.

When Dad moved he gave me a box of his treasured family photos and lots of little kid things he had saved. Being 90, and having to move, he dealt with the question of what to leave for us of personal nature at that point.

the RESULT-- if we go for it. Less stuff around! Less stuff to clean around and under. I have a basket in the kitchen of undecided bits of paper. Six month old coupons. WHY??? Cuz I mentally dedicated a basket to 'kitchen related paper bits that I am not sure I'll need but might want" So my basket is holding exactly what it should. Now if I mentally reassign this basket...

Athens, PA

What I keep wondering is in this day and age of electronics, how much information regarding old bills, etc are kept by the credit card companies, insurance companies, etc. Is some of this paper necessary? I am starting to think along a different line in that perhaps what I need to keep in my filing cabinet is a copy of my medical records, my pets medical records and perhaps the odd file for things like Lowes that will take back a dead plant if it has not come back the following year. How much of this is necessary?

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

Of course you need your info, computers can always crash and lose memory you need proof for yourself.

Athens, PA


I can access this information every time I go into these accounts. All I need are my passwords. This is why I am wondering - too often I am seeing 'do you want to turn off paper statements'.

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

I've seen too many instances of discrepencies and if you don't have a hard copy for proof you're screwed. So either keep receipts or statements(don't need both) after comparing them and paying the bill.

Athens, PA


You are probably right. All I can think of though is some poor tree died for it....

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

But responsible tree harvesters will plant a new tree in place of the ones they cut down...


Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

I have a large heavy duty file cabinet came out of an office when they were replacing with new. I do have some filing in it but there is more that hasn't been filed than has and most of what I have should really be shredded. Oh yes I know all about procrastination. 30 years ago a friend gave me a poster to hang on the wall that read. It wasn't raining when Noah started building the ark. LOL
I think that my magazines and catalog piles are a huge problem I hate to toss them and always think I will look at them again .

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


One of the Posters I will always remember was in some office's hallway...

It was a simple, woodsy picture of a a small plant-- with a single bloom-- underneath a heavy cover of
ferns and growth in a shady, woodsy spot.

The caption was: "Bloom Where You are Planted"....

That poster has always held a huge, deep understanding of life in my mind...

VERY inspirational!


Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

One thing I keep is paid off loan papers. My DIL had some collection agency contact her about and old CC bill that had been paid off years before. There had been a dispute at the time she paid it off but it was settled and the balance agreed upon paid in full. Then years later she started getting calls about it from a Collection Agency. She had a mess to deal with but she did have the old paper work even with those she had an argument. The Collection Agency. said she owed the money and didn't want to look at the paperwork and the CC Co said no she was paid and the acct settled. Finally she just told the CA that she wasn't sending them any $$ and if they put anything on her Credit Rating she would dispute it.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Gita, That is lovely and you are right. Your life is what you make of it.

annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

I have a three subject notebook (green) . The middle section is for bill paying. one page for each month. At the top of the page I list the beginning balances in each of my checking and savings accounts and projected income for the month.

Along the left hand column I list all accounts I pay on regularly (mort., loans, credit accounts, auto insurance/regist/etc and utilities in the order they must be paid. I pay almost everything via telephone. on the first or the 15th. I have a separate sheet protcted page with all account numbers and phone numbers for each.

As I phone in each payment, I record acct balance and payment made and date and payment confirmation number. Since I pay from my checking account, usually within two days, each payment posts to my bank which I also access via phone. Once it posts, I place a check mark next to item to indicate paid and posted.

Toward the right hand side I keep a running record of my main checking account. I rarely write checks or open statements. I use my bank card tied to my checking account to pay expenses through out the month for food, gas, etc which are itemized for me on my monthly bank statements if I care to budget more closely.

I really like having everything in one place for me and not having to fret about a "misplaced" or "missing " bill statement. I also enjoy not worrying whether my payment has gotten there on time... Less stress, happier me!

annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

Oh, a word to any of you who are, or think you might be the adult version of ADD like I am, many of the "get organized" hints, tips, etc that work for others do not work for us ADD ers!

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Dang,that sounds very organized to me.
Our library has books on adult ADD coping. I feel sure I could benefit from reading them.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Most of my monthly bills are set on automatic payments. No fee for these. I have a list of what will be drawn from my acct and the date it will come out and I check it off the list as it is withdrawn. My problem is that the bills that aren't on auto sometimes don't get paid in a timely manner. I have issues with mail quite often it piles up in the desk before I really look at it. I have a roll top so it is easy to put mail in there to look at later, that's much much later. You know out of sight out of mind. So now I have been trying to process the mail everyday when it comes into the house. Right into recycle or shredded only bills or important papers make it to the desk and things that go into the files put in one cubby and bills into another.
WOW just looked out the windows and we have a beautiful sunrise out there.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Thats one of the tips I've read- Sort mail right away! Our sorting takes place in the kitchen, close to the door we come in. The recycle bin and shredder are handy! Some days its all junk and I have to remember that I did in fact retrieve and sort OK, it did NOT get lost in my shuffle.

I had a friend advise once, re school papers but applies to many other things. Do it as soon as you get it. Less chance of forgetting. Now that we get virtually zero interest on any regular bank money, there is no interest gained by waiting an extra couple weeks. Oh for the good old days.......

annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

Sounds like a 'good idea' to do it as soon as you get it...but for this ADDer this one doesn't work so well because as they say (Canterbury Tales) "There's many a slip twixt cup and lip"

Tipical day illustration:

I arrive home, park car in drive, put key in special hiding place in car, gather from car what is to go inside, get out of car and place what is to go inside on front drivers seat, leave car door open (There is a spre key hidden on outside of car and a drawer in house marked 'keys' containing two spares to each vehicle. If I must lock car I place key in my right hand pants pocket Drivers license , bank card and some cash is in left pocket)

I walk to mail box out front and retrieve mail. Junk mail goes directly in to recycle bin next to mail box , its permanent location so I never 'forget' to put out the trash for trash days.. With mail in hand I return to car, gather stuff from front seat, close the door and proceed to house., where I enter through kitchen door.

So far so good. Now, I have mail in one hand and other items in the other. If I put down the other items to deal with bills received, I run the risk of being " easily distracted" and my favorite icecream melting or my cats getting into the bag with my hot rotisserie chicken . (If my phone rings, I can now just ignor that as most callers now know that I let all of my calls go to message which I screen and answer on my time) If I put the mail in its 'place for mail du jour, it is 'out of sight, out of mind' and may not surface for dealing with in a timely way, .as it visually falls off my radar screen. If I do not put it in its place but merely leave it on the counter for a minute while I put icecream in freezer, it can literally "walk off" to some unbenouced to me location if I take my eyes (focus) off of it.

If I am able to pay a bill when I get it, having ignorred or eliminated other 'priorities' (no icecream lol) I must now rely on producing my check book, a pen, and a stamp.and a place for said PAID bill. Say all this goes well (50/50 chance), I now have a stamped envelope in my han, which if I do not take to the mail box immediately, runs the same risk of distracted disappearance as incoming did. I have found outgoing mail in the pockets of my raincoat where they were put to keep them dry for the walk out to the box several weeks later when it rained again because on my way to the box I passed my car and noticed that my door ajar light was on and after figuring out which door was not fully closed, I simply forgot about the mail! A ripe tomatoe or a bird song could provide the same 'distraction' Argh

I'd do automatic bill pay if I trusted any one to have access to my accounts on online pay for secuirty issues... Glad telephone pay works for me.

Interesting that paying off my debts has little meaning for me than having fewer bills to pay (read ways and opportunity to mess up or shoot myself in the foot, etc) . Fewer bills equal more success, less failure, not a better credit score, a secondary gain..


Sand Springs (Tulsa), OK(Zone 7a)

I always have good intentions and 'start' organizing, which lasts a few months, then it's back to the piles again or I'll do it later pile. I do put really important papers like, mortgage, insurance, etc., in the filing cabinet drawer right away.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

That was an interesting and true account of how a simple daily task really works. Organization as the pros would have it seems to rely on us having one thing to do in any given, ample, time period. Life doesn't seem to work that way.

We personally/this house, have only a few designated places for incoming mail, and a place for checkbook, stamps and labels for outgoing mail/ bills, and a visible place for mail "to be sent", conveneintly and obvious when going out. This partly relies on one of us who compulsively asks about the days mail if not found immediately.

Don't we have to ask ourselves: if its not 'important' then why am I holding it? I am straying from paperwork. I have a hose nozzle for the dog. The neighbor sometimes acquires odds and ends like plant pots and offers them to me. He loves the dog and offered me a special doohickey which you can put on the hose end, leave the hose on, and the dog licks and wobbles this thing and water will leak out for her. Yesterday I found it had lingered in my kitchen counter area for months, I never committed to putting it on this summer. Not sure I want to use it or need to, yet it was thoughtful of him to give it to us.
Hence the big category of stuff that too 'valuable' to dispose of but needs a place to live in the house. Paper included, greeting cards, coupons, old comic strips, I used to even have magazine articles I liked ( a few but still) and still have those several Fine Gardening I just can't bear to toss! I got better when I decided that I can always find something interesting or funny i I want to and don't need to save those entertainment items.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

I get the "Geographic"---Can NEVER toos one of those! Too precious!
There are piles of these all over the house...

Same for the Martha Stewart magazine. And "TIME". I love them!
The only place I can make time to look at it is to bring them to work.
I have started cutting things out from the MSM-- that i want to keep.
Recipes....Craft ideas....etc..
Not too many calls coming in! Place looks dead!
As right now--I am at work--and catching up on DG.

I made a so-so new years resolution that I will take ONE area
at a time and see if I can clean it and bring some order to it.
Toos a few things and such...

Yeah, right! But--at least it would be more doable than thinking
I have to clean the whole house--which I seldom do....

What's that saying??? The road to ??? is paved with good intentions....


Near Lake Erie, NW, PA(Zone 5a)

Yea! 4 more seed/ garden catalogs to add to the pile.
I have saved magazines too Taste of Home, Better Homes and Gardens (recipes) Garden Gate are just a few of the titles. I stopped all subscriptions quite a few years ago. Sometimes I do pull out a few random issues from the pile and look through them.
I do visit a lot of cooking sites on the web and print out recipes, creating another pile of papers and the need to add to my loose leaf recipe books.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

As I typed a response and realized--I was procrastinating on housecleaning which is my primary goal for this morning.
I used to save crafts ideas and then ten years later they looked pretty dated to me.

Paper recycling has helped me see value in tossing paper.

I'll be back later. after some cleaning.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Gita, Ric takes some of the old mags to the VA Hosp when he goes there. That would be a great place for your old "Geographic" You are right they are so hard to give up but I think how interesting they are and they would be so enjoyed by the guys at the VA Hosp. I'm not sure how close you are to a VA Hosp. Going to try and do something about the junk mail I've been getting. I think I remember you could go on line and get your address removed from mailing lists. Going to see if I can find that.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

You know what? One can buy "Geographics" in a Thrift Shop for 25 cents.

I have a non stop collection from 1963-1993.
93 is when my divorce reared it's head and I was so scared
having to pay for everything I cancelled my subscription.

I started it up again a few years later....not sure when.

last year I also cancelled my "TIME" mag. but they kept hounding me
and hounding me and then made an offer I couldn't refuse.
$15 for a full year's subscription--these come out weekly....

I just thin about all the millions of $$ all these organizations spend
pestering people with all kinds of mailings....begging them to subscribe, etc.

Must be worth im my case with "TIME"...


Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I need to know how to get charities to stop asking my mom for money. I told the post office when she died and they had me do a change of address, and now I get the charities letters here. I'm going to try putting deceased on the envelope and back in the mailbox. Hm, I should look for what Holly mentioned.

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