Saturday, January 4, 2014

Household Bill Binder Filing System: I gave up files and it worked

My filing systems prior to 2013 involved file folders, filing cabinets, and boxes. Despite all my resolutions, my foreknowledge of the consequences, my various talents, and my best intentions, my system inevitably resulted in nearly empty files and overwhelmingly overflowing piles. Every March my neat inbox tray from January had morphed into a monster pile of paid bills, unpaid bills, incoming mail, warranty information, articles my husband brought home from work, receipts, bank statements, cute kid drawings, and the like.
A photographic interpretation of my desk in midsummer.

This mess would be swept into a large cardboard box at random intervals throughout the year whenever my husband despaired of seeing my desktop ever again or when out of town company was expected. Every year it was the same blasted story: after a spate of filing in January and on a good year even into February, I wouldn't file regularly and I would simply sort through and file a bunch of papers around April when the tax bug hit and around September when the desire to start the school year with a clean slate would also hit.

An abstract art representation of my old filing system.

September 2012, after nearly 13 years of failing at filing, I looked up from my pile of sorting on the floor in my kitchen and finally admitted to myself that filing was not something I would ever do. Though I could file I tended not to file. That was simply that. I needed a new system. I needed something I would actually do. After an entire day digging myself out of my paperwork mess one last time (I vowed), I did a quick Pinterest search for something that would help me with the tendency to do this...

Still not my desk from that era, but an actual pile in progress here.(Do you seriously think I would photograph that old mess?)

I found something promising but I didn't want to make much fanfare over the new system until I actually tried it out for a year. Well, yesterday I cleared out my binder from 2013 and I am all set to begin working on totaling the exemptions for my 2013 taxes whenever I wish. This is the first time in…um…ever that I have been able to put my hands on an entire year's worth of tax exempt receipts without digging through a box first.

The only variation on the system is that though I filed my medical invoices in the binder, the little medical and prescription receipts were filed away in a Ziplock baggie tacked up on the inside of a closet door. They are all there, ready to be taken out and totaled! It's January and I am not staring at a pile or a box or a mess.

Let me say further that the system worked despite the fact that by August I got a bit lazy with it. Any system that doesn't spiral into disaster but continues to function relatively well even when the user doesn't follow it religiously is a system indeed.

So, after a year of using it, I'm ready to share the system and a photo of my desk.

My desk and inbox this very day!
(I moved the inbox so you could see it.)
Remember as you gaze upon my mess…
  • I haven't really filed since August.
  • I haven't paid my bills yet.
  • I need to enter last month's receipts into the register.
  • This is as messy as it ever gets!

I would never share a photograph my desk from a year ago--in fact I never even took a picture of it--but here is my proof that the system works. Interested in looking into it? Well, here is a teaser of the page and system. Click the title to visit the blog, Echoes of Laughter to learn more.

The Absolute Easiest Way To Track, Pay & Organize Your Household Bills...No Filing Involved!

For years, I kept our household bills filed in file folders in a file box..... just like hundreds of other people.
Let me also confess that I have gone through periods in my life where bills were 'filed' in a grocery bag hanging on the back of the bedroom door. 
Yep. Sad but true.
I have seen many examples of how to organize & 'file' bills around blogland lately.
But I want to share with you a different way.
 Two years ago I switched to this method...and I like it much better.
And here's another dirty little secret about me....although I love to organize... I HATE, with a capital 'H',  filing!
I like not having to go through different files to find things or put them away.
This system helps me avoid that!
Let me introduce the Household Bill Binder.
It's a simple method..... it's fast and it works.
I just get out the binder when I am ready to sit at the computer to make on-line payments with our bank.
And then I put the binder away. No filing!

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