Mistakes Happen: Check Your Bills Carefully

by Guest Blogger Michelle R Jones

Whether you are an individual making purchases from a store, a manager signing off a vendor bill for payment or a business owner making payment decisions, make sure you check the bills before you pay them because mistakes do happen. This is not a matter of somebody trying to cheat you, but simple mistakes such as hitting a wrong key or forgetting that discount you negotiated when you phoned in your order.

People generally do not try to cheat you, but even if they do they would be relying on you not checking. Many stores have a sign by the cash register: “Please check change before you leave!” That’s not just because some try to claim to be short-changed, but also because some are short-changed because the cashier made a mistake.

If you are in business, you should double-check everything financial because genuine mistakes can be made, and that fact will not likely bother you until it happens to you. Then you have to prove that it was made, or in business it might not be noticed until an audit – and even then it might be missed. So you lose money – or gain money (why is that a lot less common?), depending on the error, but it needn’t be like that!

Check your vendor bills against your order. Computers don’t make errors but the people using them do. Make sure the addition is correct and that you have been charged the agreed price for each item. Also make sure that the items listed have been ordered – it wouldn’t be the first time…

If you run a business and are deciding how to make payments, never pay by cash, no matter what the vendor offers you in the form of a discount. Use a credit card that offers a receipt when paid, and check your receipts against your credit card statement charges – whether you use a credit card or bank debit card, is immaterial. The point is you get a receipt with the payment that can be checked against your monthly statements to make sure that the bank or card issuer has not made a mistake – this is not uncommon!

If you are an individual purchasing goods from a store, check your receipt before leaving the store. The addition won’t be wrong because cash registers are generally accurate – otherwise everybody would be charged wrongly. However, the items might be – cash registers often operate from barcodes that rely on humans coding the correct prices – and items! If multi-buy discounts are offered make sure they have been applied, and the same is true of any other form of price reduction.

Mistakes happen, and you would be remiss if you failed to carry out the proper checks to make sure that you are paying exactly as agreed for your purchases, whether from a mall store or a vendor to your business. Make sure your charges and taxes are applied correctly, and if not then complain. Fail to check payments, and you are costing yourself or your company money – something in increasingly short supply these days!

Michell R. Jones; More information on running your business efficiently is available from B & M Financial Management Services, LLC at http://www.bmfms.com where you will also find help on several other issues that improve your business performance

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Michelle_R_Jones

Organizing Your Bills: Mistakes Happen

by Guest Blogger Michelle R Jones

Whether you are an individual making purchases from a store, a manager signing off a vendor bill for payment or a business owner making payment decisions, organizing your bills is essential. Make sure you check the bills before you pay them because mistakes do happen. This is not a matter of somebody trying to cheat you, but simple mistakes such as hitting a wrong key or forgetting that discount you negotiated when you phoned in your order.

People generally do not try to cheat you, but even if they do they would be relying on you not checking. Many stores have a sign by the cash register: “Please check change before you leave!” That’s not just because some try to claim to be short-changed, but also because some are short-changed because the cashier made a mistake.

If you are in business, you should double-check everything financial because genuine mistakes can be made, and that fact will not likely bother you until it happens to you. Then you have to prove that it was made, or in business it might not be noticed until an audit – and even then it might be missed. So you lose money – or gain money (why is that a lot less common?), depending on the error, but it needn’t be like that!

Check your vendor bills against your order. Computers don’t make errors but the people using them do. Make sure the addition is correct and that you have been charged the agreed price for each item. Also make sure that the items listed have been ordered – it wouldn’t be the first time…

If you run a business and are deciding how to make payments, never pay by cash, no matter what the vendor offers you in the form of a discount. Use a credit card that offers a receipt when paid, and check your receipts against your credit card statement charges – whether you use a credit card or bank debit card, is immaterial. The point is you get a receipt with the payment that can be checked against your monthly statements to make sure that the bank or card issuer has not made a mistake – this is not uncommon!

If you are an individual purchasing goods from a store, check your receipt before leaving the store. The addition won’t be wrong because cash registers are generally accurate – otherwise everybody would be charged wrongly. However, the items might be – cash registers often operate from barcodes that rely on humans coding the correct prices – and items! If multi-buy discounts are offered make sure they have been applied, and the same is true of any other form of price reduction.

Mistakes happen, and you would be remiss if you failed to carry out the proper checks to make sure that you are paying exactly as agreed for your purchases, whether from a mall store or a vendor to your business. Make sure your charges and taxes are applied correctly, and if not then complain. Fail to check payments, and you are costing yourself or your company money – something in increasingly short supply these days!

Michell R. Jones; More information on running your business efficiently is available from B & M Financial Management Services, LLC at http://www.bmfms.com where you will also find help on several other issues that improve your business performance

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Michelle_R_Jones

Organizing Documents for Going Through A Divorce

Going through a divorce can be a very stressful time for you and the whole family. Don’t make the stress worse by being confused on which documents you need when filing for a divorce. Get all your documents organized before you meet with the attorney.

The best thing to do is buy a large binder. Separate the binder into sections as listed below using cover sheets or inserts with labels. Behind each section keep copies of the following list of paperwork:

Section 1: Proof of Income

1. Your paycheck stubs. Include all sources of income for the past year. If you don’t have stubs for the past year, a the very minimum provide pay stubs for the prior three months.

2. Your spouse’s paycheck stubs. All sources of income for the past year or at least the stubs for the past three months.

3. If you or your spouse are self- employed, you will need all documents that show payments received or charges billed. You must also include all documentation that outlines all business expenses.

4. Copies of your tax returns from the past 3 years. This includes business tax returns.

5. If you or your spouse work for cash, you need to supply receipts for cash payments or a ledger that shows expenses paid.

6. You must supply any financial statements that have been prepared by you or your spouse that proves your net worth. You will have these types of statements if you have ever applied for a loan.

7. Any miscellaneous documents that will help establish both you and your spouse’s net worth.

Section 2: Real Estate

1. Have copies of the documents that contain legal descriptions of all real estate you and your spouse own. Remember this real estate can be owned together, or it can be owned separately.

2. You must provide all current mortgage statements on all real estate.

3. You must have all documents pertaining to the initial purchase and/or the refinance of all real estate.

4. A copy of the assessor’s statement for all real estate.

Section 3: Personal Finance

1. You will need to provide savings passbooks and all other types of savings certificates you may have. You need to include joint and individual accounts.

2. You must provide copies of checking account bank statements from the past two years. This includes all individual and joint accounts.

3. Include copies of all life insurance policies. This includes policies on yourself, your spouse, and your children. Don’t forget to include policies from your employer.

Section 4: All Debts

1. You must provide an itemized list of all debts that you or your spouse has incurred. Don’t forget to list unsecured debt such as medical bills and credit cards.

Section 5: Pension Funds

1. Provide copies of current statements for you and your spouse’s pension funds. This will include IRAs, 401K, retirement funds, etc.

Section 6: Vehicles

1. You will need to provide the title and registration for all vehicles owned by you or your spouse. This will include cars, boats, farm equipment and ATVs.

2. You need to include all statements for these vehicles that show the outstanding secured debt.

Acquiring the papers can be time-consuming but, it should be less stressful for you now that you know what you need to have.

Create Your Organizational Vision

As a professional organizer, I encourage people to keep an inventory of their belongings.  Whether you have to place a claim with your insurance company or you’re thinking of moving or renovating, you need to know what you have.

Most people are surprised by the amount of stuff they own, once they start paying attention.  Like the practice of writing down everything you eat, writing down everything you own can cause you to question your behavior.  How did you end up with multiples of gadgets you almost never use?  What were you thinking when you bought that equipment from a late-night infomercial?  Analyzing shopping mistakes can be painful, but it’s important to recognize what you need and what you can let go.

Once you start to evaluate what you have, think about how you want to live.  Peter Walsh, author and professional organizer, says

Visualize the life you want, and then ask, ‘Does this item enhance that vision or get in the way of it?’

What is the vision you want for your life?  You might be starting a new career or adding to your family.  Maybe you’re getting ready to retire and you want to spend more time pursuing hobbies.  You could be preparing to take on a new challenge that you’ve always dreamed of.

You’ll need to include some – but probably not all – of your possessions to create your vision.  Give yourself permission to let go of things that don’t add value to your life.  Be ruthless when considering if you will ever use an item again.  If you don’t love it or use it, let go of it and allow someone else to benefit from it.

Before you bring anything new into your home, no matter how attractive or useful it is, ask yourself if it meets the criteria you set for your vision.  Don’t let price influence your decision; it doesn’t matter what a “bargain” something is if it gets in the way of achieving your goal.

If you are having trouble deciding whether to keep something, consider Peter Walsh’s advice.  You don’t have to throw everything out and start all over.  Go slowly and think carefully about what you keep.  Let it be a reflection of what you value.

Do the things you own fit in with your vision?  Leave a comment, below, and tell us how.

Original Post form Lock Boxer.

Decluttering as Zen Meditation

Decluttering your home or workspace can often seem overwhelming, but in truth it can be as peaceful as meditation, and can be a way to practice living mindfully and in the moment.

Decluttering can be your zazen, as it is often mine.

Recently I was honored with the chance to speak to a class at the San Francisco Zen Center, with the wonderful Zen priest Susan O’Connell (one of my favorite people in the world, and my favorite movie star friend). I talked with the Zen students about decluttering, and a couple things stood out for me as I talked:

  • Clutter is a manifestation of a) holding onto the past and b) fear of what might happen in the future.
  • Letting go of clutter is a way to live more mindfully and in the present.
  • The act of decluttering itself can be a mindfulness practice.

Let’s talk about each of those things briefly.

Clutter is holding onto the past, or fear of the future

Why do we have clutter in the first place? Why do we keep it when we don’t really need it? Maybe we think we do need it — for two reasons:

1. We don’t want to let go of the past. Often clutter comes in the form of emotional attachment to objects that have significance to us. They might remind us of a loved one, or a vacation, or a special event like a birthday, funeral, graduation, etc. It might be a gift from someone. All of this is living in the past. I’m not saying we should forget about the past, but letting go of these objects (and they’re only objects, they’re not the events or loved ones themselves) … it is a way of releasing our hold on the past. It’s a way of living more in the present. I never forget the past, but it’s not a place I try to dwell.

2. We’re afraid of the future. Clutter might be things we think we might need sometime in the future. We hold on to them just in case. Over-packing for a trip is a good example — we bring more than we really need, just in case we need them. It’s the same in our houses — we have a ton of things we don’t really need or use, just in case. We’re afraid of being unprepared for the future, but the truth is we can never be totally prepared. We can’t control the outcome of the future, and trying to do so means that we’re never really living in the present moment. We’re always preparing for what might (or might not) come.

Look at your clutter carefully, one object at a time, and ask yourself why you’re holding onto each object. It’s probably for one of these two reasons, if you’re honest.

Btw, books are usually examples of one of these two reasons. We hold onto books we’ve already read, as trophies of our reading accomplishments. We hold onto books we might read in the future (but probably won’t), with the optimism that our future selves are going to be more amazing readers than we’ve ever been in the past. In truth, you only need three or four books — the ones you might read in the next month. Then after you’ve read those, donate those books to charity, and check out a few books from the library.

Let go of clutter to live mindfully

So if clutter is holding onto the past, and fearing the future … how can we live in the present instead?

I slowly get rid of clutter, and in doing so, I release my mind of these attachments and fears. It’s a liberating process. Clutter is the physical embodiment of these attachments and fears — emotional stuff that we don’t realize we have. By decluttering, we are clearing ourselves of these tangled webs.

And when I’ve gotten rid of clutter, I’m freed. I can forget about those things, and live instead in this moment. I can fully appreciate life as it happens, instead of looking back on what has happened before, or looking forward to what might happen later.

It’s of course possible to live in the moment even if you have clutter. There is no prerequisite to mindful living. But decluttering can be a beautiful process of helping ourselves let go of the things we don’t realize we’re holding on to.

Clutter as mindfulness practice

And so, as I declutter, not only am I freeing myself up to live in the present … I am living in the present during the process of decluttering.

It’s a form of zazen — which is sitting meditation, but at its core zazen is really a way to practice being mindful. It’s a way to prepare us for dealing mindfully with the rest of the things we do in life. And really, anything can be used as a way to practice mindfulness. I’ve often used running and walking, but also washing dishes and sweeping.

And decluttering is one of the best mindfulness practices, in my experience. Here’s how I do it:

1. Pick one cluttered flat surface. It can be a tabletop, countertop, shelf, the top of a dresser, floor of a closet, floor of a room (just a section of that floor to start with). Don’t worry about all the rest of your cluttered spaces for now — just pick this one space. Small is good.

2. Clear that surface. Take everything off and pile it on the floor or another table. Clean the surface while it’s clear — wipe it with a cloth, slowly and mindfully.

3. Take one object from the pile. Forget about the entire pile — just look at that one object. Ask yourself why you have it. Is it for emotional reasons, or do you really use it? Is it for “just in case”? When was the last time you used it? If you don’t really need or use it, put it in a box for donation or trash it. If you do really use it, put it in another pile to be put back on your now-clean surface. If you’re on the fence and can’t bear to give something up, put it in a “maybe” box and put that box away for six months (mark the date on your calendar).

4. Repeat, one object at a time. Practice doing this mindfully. Make a decision with each object — keep, donate, or maybe box. No waffling or putting off decisions. Deal with each object once, then move on.

5.Put the objects back, and make a “home” for each one. Each object needs to have a spot that is its home, and you should always put those objects back in their homes. If you can’t find a home for an object, you don’t have space for it. Donate the items in the donation box, and put away the maybe box. Eventually you won’t need a maybe box as you get good at this.

Learn to focus on one thing at a time, mindfully, and deal with each object once. This is a good practice for doing things in the rest of your life.

Original post written by Leo Babauta of Zenhabits.com

Paper Clutter

Recently I had a challenging assignment. I had a client who was interested in finally tackling her paper clutter. Paper clutter is something everyone has and no one person is spared from this. We all get mail, we all allow this to pile up. This entry isn’t going to address how to avoid this from happening, but I will publish my personal tips on that subject at a later date. This post is how I went about tackling the paper monster once it was created. This situation was unique because I was working with an entrepreneur. These are the hardest cases due to the fact that as a business owner by law you must keep the last 5 years of receipts, tax information, bills, and write-offs claimed that year in the event of an audit.

**(QUICK NOTE: Non-business owners do not need to hold on to any tax information beyond 3 years)

My client had saved everything her only issue was it was everywhere. We contained it to 4 large container bins which held loose pages of bills and unopened mail. She was rightfully overwhelmed which is where I came in and “whip it up”.

First thing you want to do is gather all your papers. This had been done between the client and I during a previous visit. I then grabbed two garbage bags, one for trash(envelopes, outdated paperwork, and junk mail). The second for shredding personal documents that would be thrown out. Find an open space, I chose the floor so I had plenty of room to spread out. DON’T fear this daunting task all I want you to do is make 5 piles to signify 2007-2011. Grab a highlighter, pick up the first piece of paper and highlight the date and place in its corresponding pile. If its outdated trash it. Don’t ogle through past purchases or decide to verify a purchase that was completed years ago just place in the pile and move forward. Remember don’t make excuses why you believe you need to keep something outdated; you don’t throw it out.
**(QUICK NOTE: Bank Statements are recorded and saved by your bank; you can request summaries of them from your bank for any month/year you choose FREE OF CHARGE. So why are you keeping something that is perfectly electronically filed for you? )

After all the clutter was organized in their piles take 2011 and begin to categorize the bills, summary statements, and receipts, etc. I used 5 file a faxes from Staples. They came to $50 w/ tax. Each file a fax purchased had 13 categories. We neatly created tabs for each of the categories chosen and began to quickly file away. Before we knew it we had done all 5 years.

Every project you see in your home just takes a little thought and imagination on how to complete it quickly and efficiently. Till next time. Clean up that mess.

by: Chanthini Butler, Organizing and Administrative Consultant

Three Power Moves for Decision Making

It is of utmost importance to recognize when you’ve entered into a no win situation and have a strategy that allows you to instantly get out and beat choice rather than in reaction. You can consciously step back and disengage from any situation that rattles your cage with one simple internal move.

Power Move One – When you get stuck remind yourself,

I am going to disengage and step back and give this situation some air”. Breathing deep into your belly also calms the nervous system, takes you out of the sympathetic nervous system and soothes the flight or fight reaction. Making decisions in flight or fight mode can be dicey; better to step back when intensity strikes and find a relaxed, calm state before taking decisive action or reacting in a way that adds fuel to the fire or costs you a client, good staff member or a lot of money which you regret later.

Power Move Two: Gather More Information: Facts Vs. Assumptions

A key to making the best decision is to have the ability to gather and assess accurate information first.

This power move allows you to view your situation more objectively and separate facts from spin-thoughts and spin-terpretations. For Power Move Two, remind yourself “I now choose to gather accurate information and evaluate it with both my mind and body.” Many decision-making systems recommend looking at a list of positives and negatives, or costs and payoffs in any given situation. These approaches have you figure out which choice is best from a largely rational point of view, which doesn’t necessarily work. Power Move Two engages IQ, EQ and BQ, mind and body, facts and feelings, as part of the decision making process. You learn how to scan your body-mind with feeling awareness, listening not just to your thoughts, but gut physical instincts and emotions too. Once you calmly inquire into your mental, physical and emotional state, you can respond appropriately to what is happening.

Use Power Move Two to sort out circumstantial evidence, to separate facts from false assumptions based on your fears, and outdated beliefs. This perspective helps you recognize and accept what you cannot control and focus your attention on what you can control or to get creative about what is possible.

Power Move Three: Make a clear decision and carry it through

The reminder for Power Move Three is: “I can make a powerful choice and follow through on my decision.” While the first two power moves are designed to help you attain a calm, balanced state in which you feel a inwardly alert and able to hold a clear view of what-is instead of what-is-imagined, the third Power Move allows you to embody and focus your personal power in alignment with your deepest desire-your passion and your purpose-and then bring that purpose-driven power fully into the decision-making process.

This move is all about getting clear, from a place of inner clarity and power, what you truly want in any situation. Knowing your authentic desire is essential so that you can choose and act decisively. We access this clarity of intention and desire in Power Move Three based on the grounded information we accessed in the first two moves. When you are aligned with your overall desired outcome, the power of that larger purpose or vision enhances the decision making process. Carrying through and not wavering back and forth saves you a lot of time, money and shows you took the time to step back, gather facts, listen to your gut and then as a leader carried through on a decision with confidence and clarity.

Weave these power moves into your life and you will gain a wider, more deeply informed perspective on situations that once might have baffled you. In time, they will become your natural way of moving through your day.

Decision Making Techniques: Three Power Moves

It is of utmost importance to recognize when you’ve entered into a no win situation and have a strategy that allows you to instantly get out and beat choice rather than in reaction. You can consciously step back and disengage from any situation that rattles your cage with three simple decision-making techniques.

Power Move One – When you get stuck remind yourself,

I am going to disengage and step back and give this situation some air”. Breathing deep into your belly also calms the nervous system, takes you out of the sympathetic nervous system and soothes the flight or fight reaction. Making decisions in flight or fight mode can be dicey; better to step back when intensity strikes and find a relaxed, calm state before taking decisive action or reacting in a way that adds fuel to the fire or costs you a client, good staff member or a lot of money which you regret later.

Power Move Two: Gather More Information: Facts Vs. Assumptions

A key to making the best decision is to have the ability to gather and assess accurate information first.

This power move allows you to view your situation more objectively and separate facts from spin-thoughts and spin-terpretations. For Power Move Two, remind yourself “I now choose to gather accurate information and evaluate it with both my mind and body.” Many decision-making systems recommend looking at a list of positives and negatives, or costs and payoffs in any given situation. These approaches have you figure out which choice is best from a largely rational point of view, which doesn’t necessarily work. Power Move Two engages IQ, EQ, and BQ, mind and body, facts and feelings, as part of the decision-making process. You learn how to scan your body-mind with feeling awareness, listening not just to your thoughts, but gut physical instincts and emotions too. Once you calmly inquire into your mental, physical and emotional state, you can respond appropriately to what is happening.

Use Power Move Two to sort out circumstantial evidence, to separate facts from false assumptions based on your fears, and outdated beliefs. This perspective helps you recognize and accept what you cannot control and focus your attention on what you can control or to get creative about what is possible.

Power Move Three: Make a clear decision and carry it through

The reminder for Power Move Three is: “I can make a powerful choice and follow through on my decision.” While the first two power moves are designed to help you attain a calm, balanced state in which you feel a inwardly alert and able to hold a clear view of what-is instead of what-is-imagined, the third Power Move allows you to embody and focus your personal power in alignment with your deepest desire-your passion and your purpose-and then bring that purpose-driven powerfully into the decision-making process.

This move is all about getting clear, from a place of inner clarity and power, what you truly want in any situation. Knowing your authentic desire is essential so that you can choose and act decisively. We access this clarity of intention and desire in Power Move Three based on the grounded information we accessed in the first two moves. When you are aligned with your overall desired outcome, the power of that larger purpose or vision enhances the decision-making process. Carrying through and not wavering back and forth saves you a lot of time, money and shows you took the time to step back, gather facts, listen to your gut and then as a leader carried through on a decision with confidence and clarity.

Weave these power moves into your life and you will gain a wider, more deeply informed perspective on situations that once might have baffled you. In time, they will become your natural way of moving through your day.

Tip Day Wednesday: Paper Chaos: 10 Simple Tips for Reducing Paper Clutter at Home

by: Edward Stern.

Between the mail, receipts, coupons, and other important papers (that may or may not actually be worth keeping), paper clutter can soon take over your house. By being organized and developing a system for filling and going through paper on a regular basis, your house or work space can once again become clutter free. Here are 10 easy tips for reducing paper clutter at home.

  1. Sign up for paperless statements: Most of your paper will generated through credit card statements, bank statements, bills for utilities, cable, etc. Go online and ask to receive them electronically. It’s better for the environment, and better for the state of your house.
  2. Automate your bills online: Most people do their banking online these days anyways, so pay your bills online as well. You can set up convenient reminders near due dates, or automate them to take care of them automatically each month. Get your statements electronically, and pay them off electronically as well.
  3. Create a receipt basket: Wherever you pay the bills, create a receipt basket where you can deposit receipts until you go through them at your designated time. Otherwise, you’ll have scraps of paper lying around the house or filling up your wallet.
  4. Use your coupons or toss ’em: Coupons may have great deals, but often seem to go unused — and become a big part of your paper clutter. Cut out the ones you need for the week, and put them next to your shopping list or somewhere you’ll remember them before going out shopping. If you don’t use them during your shopping trip, to the recycling bin they go. Also, getting a free customer rewards card from any major grocery chain often gives the same, if not better discounts as coupons, and only requires you to swipe your card each time you visit.
  5. Have a memory space: For those cards, important papers, etc. that you want to keep forever, create a memory space somewhere in the house where you can have them stored safely, securely, and in an organized fashion. Better yet, create a memory space for everyone in your family so they can follow suit and help keep the house clean.
  6. Unsubscribe: Many people subscribe to magazines or newspapers that they never end up reading. Cancel your subscriptions. It will save you money, reduce clutter, and you’ll still be able to access much of you want online for free — and without paper.
  7. Junk the mail: Open your mail near your trash or recycling bin. Throw away extraneous paper, like outer mailing envelopes, as you go. It will encourage you to sort your mail immediately and get rid of what you don’t need.
  8. File: Have a file to organize your paper neatly and inconspicuously. Don’t use this as an excuse to throw all paper in a metal box. Instead, sort it out by bills, statements, etc. and use this to stay organized.
  9. Have an instructions folder: For appliances, electronics, games, etc. the instructions always seem to end up all over the place. Create a folder or basket where all the instructions can go, preferably in a closet where games are kept or somewhere inconspicuous but easily accessible.
  10. Clean it out: Set a schedule for cleaning out your files and other paper storage spaces. For bills and receipts, take of them, say after your taxes have been filed to make room for next year’s paper.

Further Reading
Edward Stern is a freelance writer and organizational freak. As a youngster, he used to keep everything, but now sees the importance of recycling to help the environment and keep his sanity.

Photograph via flickr by lotyloty.

10 Simple Tips for Clearing Paper Clutter at Home

Between the mail, receipts, coupons, and other important papers (that may or may not actually be worth keeping), paper clutter can soon take over your house. By being organized and developing a system for filling and going through paper on a regular basis, your house or work space can once again become clutter free. Here are 10 easy tips for clearing paper clutter at home.

  1. Sign up for paperless statements: Most of your paper will generated through credit card statements, bank statements, bills for utilities, cable, etc. Go online and ask to receive them electronically. It’s better for the environment, and better for the state of your house.
  2. Automate your bills online: Most people do their banking online these days anyways, so pay your bills online as well. You can set up convenient reminders near due dates, or automate them to take care of them automatically each month. Get your statements electronically, and pay them off electronically as well.
  3. Create a receipt basket: Wherever you pay the bills, create a receipt basket where you can deposit receipts until you go through them at your designated time. Otherwise, you’ll have scraps of paper lying around the house or filling up your wallet.
  4. Use your coupons or toss ’em: Coupons may have great deals, but often seem to go unused — and become a big part of your paper clutter. Cut out the ones you need for the week, and put them next to your shopping list or somewhere you’ll remember them before going out shopping. If you don’t use them during your shopping trip, to the recycling bin they go. Also, getting a free customer rewards card from any major grocery chain often gives the same, if not better discounts as coupons, and only requires you to swipe your card each time you visit.
  5. Have a memory space: For those cards, important papers, etc. that you want to keep forever, create a memory space somewhere in the house where you can have them stored safely, securely, and in an organized fashion. Better yet, create a memory space for everyone in your family so they can follow suit and help keep the house clean.
  6. Unsubscribe: Many people subscribe to magazines or newspapers that they never end up reading. Cancel your subscriptions. It will save you money, reduce clutter, and you’ll still be able to access much of you want online for free — and without paper.
  7. Junk the mail: Open your mail near your trash or recycling bin. Throw away extraneous paper, like outer mailing envelopes, as you go. It will encourage you to sort your mail immediately and get rid of what you don’t need.
  8. File: Have a file to organize your paper neatly and inconspicuously. Don’t use this as an excuse to throw all paper in a metal box. Instead, sort it out by bills, statements, etc. and use this to stay organized.
  9. Have an instructions folder: For appliances, electronics, games, etc. the instructions always seem to end up all over the place. Create a folder or basket where all the instructions can go, preferably in a closet where games are kept or somewhere inconspicuous but easily accessible.
  10. Clean it out: Set a schedule for cleaning out your files and other paper storage spaces. For bills and receipts, take of them, say after your taxes have been filed to make room for next year’s paper.

by: Edward Stern.

Further Reading
Edward Stern is a freelance writer and organizational freak. As a youngster, he used to keep everything, but now sees the importance of recycling to help the environment and keep his sanity.

Photograph via flickr by lotyloty.