Paper, Junk Mail, Bills , Catalogs! UGH! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 10-07-2005, 12:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Every day there is a sneaky, viscious monster in my mailbox. A pound of mail every day. Some of it necessary. Most not.

I try to go through it RIGHT AWAY and sort what I do not want. But there's always too many "Not Sures" that then pile up and up and up.

So my cubbies are full. I've got all these little rubberband-bound stacks of bills here there and everywhere and I AM SICK OF IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PLUS I'm always searching for this bill or that. I tried a little accordian folder thing for a while but that doesn't seem ideal.

And what about insurance lists? You know those statements that come from the health insurance that my dh tells me we need to hang onto for references and WE NEVER LOOK AT THEM AGAIN!??? When do you purge those?

LAST: Do you have all of your child's "papers" in a handy place? And yours? Like Social Security, birth, whatever?

IS THERE A LIGHT AT THE END OF THIS PAPER TUNNEL?!
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#2 of 11 Old 10-07-2005, 02:13 AM
 
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I stop at the recycle bin on the way in from the mailbox and at least half the mail ends up there. All bills go immediately in my "bill box" and I go through and pay whatever's in the box on the 10th and 24th of each month. Stuff that needs action or to be put on the calendar goes next to my computer. Catalogs and things I want to read at some point go in a wood box I keep near the couch, so I can read them while watching TV in the evenings or hanging out in the family room. I have little stacking trays for kids artwork and papers but they aren't easily accessible so I am thinking about putting it all in a box in the front coat closet and sorting it once a month. I have a tray for stuff that needs to be filed (our file cabinet is in the garage) and I file it away every month or two.
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#3 of 11 Old 10-07-2005, 09:12 PM
 
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My system is similar to 2GRKIDS method. When I get the mail I open it at the kitchen counter -- I open everything, immediately recycle the envelopes, catalogs and ads we don't want to start with. If there is a catalog that looks interesting I try to skim through it quickly to determine if I will actually buy anything -- if not, in the recycle bin it goes. If it's a keeper it goes in the magazine basket which I go through once a month or so. Bills go in a drawer and are paid periodically (usually on or before they are due but basically when we get the $$ :LOL ) I have a pile on top of my filing cabinet for stuff we need to save and things get filed into folders when the pile gets too big (nobody's perfect!) and my kids papers get put into folders when they come home. Everyone gets a folder and once or twice throughout the school year I take a look and see what is important -- special things get saved, worksheet type things get recycled too. At the end of the year all of the "special" things we want to save get put into Avon boxes in our basement to store -- each child has their own box. Oh and I keep my calendar handy in the drawer where the bills are to jot down appointments, special dates, and other info that comes home/via the mail and toss the original announcements/invites, etc. so that everything is in one place. Oh and our important papers are in folders in our filing cabinet although I think a safer place would probably be a deposit box at a bank or something.
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#4 of 11 Old 10-07-2005, 11:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You ladies are my heroes! No kidding!

I wish I could shadow you for a day so I could LEARN!

But the single most thiong I hear from you organized types is what you both said: you do it RIGHT AWAY. You do not set it down for later. (Which never comes.)

And I do try to do that. Anyway I've gotten better but still I get behind.

Can I ask, how long do you keep bills...I mean, do you keep them after you've paid them to have a record? My dh says we must keep them for a year. (He keeps everything forever.) Or do you toss right away?

What about medical bills and insurance statements?

What about school newsletters, neighborhood newsletters and old checks?

TEACH ME!!!!!!! I'm yours!
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#5 of 11 Old 10-08-2005, 08:04 PM
 
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My husband insists we need to keep this stuff for seven years. I have never once had to go back to find anything, but to make him happy, I have come up with a manageable system that doesn't take up too much time or room!

Each bill gets put in a little box next to my computer (I pay everything online through my bank) and pay whatever is due next each week when dh gets paid. I write on the bill how much was paid & the date, then put it in a hanging file in the desk drawer. Each company has its own hanging file - medical bills, phone, water, etc.

Every Christmas, I save a shirt box and in January I gather up all the bills from the previous year and place them in the box, tape it up and label it with the year. Then I take it to the basement and add the new box to the little pile and remove the oldest box. I then shred all evidence of the papers I bothered to save for seven years!

(This goes for checks, medical, bills, insurance papers, etc.)

Jennifer :, blessed wife to 4/00 and joyful mother of 6/03, 2/06 and 3/10.
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#6 of 11 Old 10-08-2005, 11:00 PM
 
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I do not keep the paper bills. I pay my bills online and keep the confirmation emails they send.
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#7 of 11 Old 10-09-2005, 12:20 AM
 
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What helps dh and I is that his first name seems like a woman's name to Americans, so any thing to Ms. Dh is junk. We've also gone to paying our bills online and only get 3 paper bills. I'm still working on getting all the payments automatic.

We do still get some questionables, I sort the mail by the recycling bin with a letter opener in hand and open the ones I'm not sure about, if they're junk I toss them right into the bin, if they aren't I put them in a "to be dealt with pile". Then when I'm done, I'll have a small pile of paper to deal with and I deal with it right away.

Our bank charges a monthly fee if we use checks (don't ask), so we don't have check stubs to deal with. When we did use checks, the canceled checks were stored by the bank and we could view a scanned copy of the check online.
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#8 of 11 Old 10-11-2005, 10:33 AM
 
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Many, many years ago I lived with a guy who got appendicitis. We were poor grad students and we had to apply for Medicaid to pay the $10,000 bill. To apply, you needed bank statements going back many years. I can't remember how many now, but I do remember being very lucky that I was a saver. I do remember that they would not accept the application without them, and I had to go to the bank to order a copy of one statement I was missing.

So save your bank statements and tax forms, I would guess medical records too, for 7 years. I am not sure what is legally necessary, and there probably isn't any medicaid money available anyway, but save away. I keep checks in a shoebox--once every few years I remember to throw away the ancient ones, and I keep bank statements in a file folder in a file drawer.

Now if I could just get a handle on all the kids papers, recipes I cut out of the newspaper, ack.
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#9 of 11 Old 10-11-2005, 09:56 PM
 
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The real watchword as far as how long to save things is whether the information is available somewhere else. Most banks now submit checks electronically, and keep scanned copies, so if you even GET paper checks anymore (This is being phased out), you don't have to save them for 7 years, because your bank will save them electronically.

I'd save copies of your taxes forever. But then, I've been audited before, and having a copy of all my taxes in one place made it SO much smoother.

Bank statements are good to save in case you need to prove a payment history.

Bills, reciepts, etc. can go. I'd save any paperwork from your health insurance that has 'Explination of Benefits' on top, or that says how much they paid for a procedure at least until you know the bill has been settled with the doc. Otherwise throw them. Medical records are important if you refer to them, otherwise toss them. All of that kind of information is available from the company were you to need it for no charge. They're legally required to keep it for 7 years, so there's no point in your putting yourself out to do it too.

Spending all of my money and time on this wild, wild life.
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#10 of 11 Old 10-12-2005, 04:49 PM
 
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http://www.obviously.com/junkmail/

Try these tips.
I sent a postcard to the junk mail preference service years ago and it worked great!

HTH
-Lindsay
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#11 of 11 Old 10-15-2005, 02:34 PM
 
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Wow! You ladies are all so organized!!

Mama to DD 06' Partner to Sasa
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