You may not know it but being disorganized could be costing you money. When you have piles or bags of papers lying around, it’s easy for things to get lost. Maybe you were sent a rebate check or a reminder for a bill. When you toss those into your leaning tower of paper, it’s easy to forget to deposit a check or pay a bill. Then the money isn’t in your account, or you have late fees piling up.
There are ways to fix the clutter of papers to keep your money life organized and not costing you money.
What to keep and what to toss
Knowing what to keep and what to throw out is half the battle in organizing. Here are some guidelines to help.
- Credit Card Statements-until you’ve paid the bill, longer if needed for taxes purposes
- Deposit and ATM receipts-Until you’ve reconciled with monthly statement
- Income tax returns-depending on conditions but most people, but generally six years
- Pay stubs-1 year, until you receive your W-2
- Utility & cell phone bills-until paid
If you need more information check out the IRS website.
How to stay on top of the paper
Now that you’ll all caught up and organized work on staying organized every day. Each day when you receive the mail, go through it right away and separate it into piles. Put all the reading material together, i.e. magazines and newspapers, the junk, deposits and the bills. Throw out the junk right away, and then take the reading material to a place where you’ll have it when you’re reading to peruse—maybe a bookshelf or magazine basket. If you have time, pay your bills right then. If you’re paying them later store them all together in a “to be paid” folder or a place separate from other papers. Take your deposits and either do them electronically or put them in your purse to do the next time your out. Working your mail right away will help them from getting lost in the paper shuffle.
Now I know in the real world it can be difficult to walk leisurely in and sort your mail right away. There are going to be times when you’re running late, carrying stuff in like a Sherpa, everyone’s hungry and screaming or if you’re like me, and your kid gets the mail and leaves half of it in a trail down the driveway. Just set it aside and do it later in the evening. This goes for the huge pile of papers, each of your children bring home from school.
The bottom line is taking a few moments each day to stay organized will save you more time and money in the long run.