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Paper clutter

THE first step in getting rid of paper clutter and getting organised is to figure out a filing system. You can buy nice little file cabinets at any office supply store that require very little space. While you're there, buy some of the paper file folders to put in your file cabinet.

Gather up all the papers that you want to store in your file cabinet. Sort them all into stacks or categories ... bills, receipts, tax papers, old bills that you may want to keep, letters, etc.

Each stack will become a separate folder, so pay attention to how big the stack gets. If a stack gets too big, then make two folders for that particular stack.

These are some tips on how to file your papers:

* Seldom needed papers, such as tax forms and insurance papers can be put in the back of the drawer.

* Have specific folders, but not too specific or you will end up with a lot of empty files.

* Make a folder for household repairs. You can put warranties and other how to papers in this folder.

File headings:

Ask yourself what word would come first to your mind, then write this in the file heading. This way you will always remember where to find a certain file.

Make a file index; an alphabetical list of all your file headings and update it every month.

If you like to keep everything, ask yourself what could be the worst thing that could happen if you threw it away. If the answer is nothing, then throw it away. Ask yourself questions ... how long has it been since I used this? Do I need this many? If you like to save magazines and newspapers, find a hidden shelf in a cabinet or bookshelf that you can store them in.

When you open mail, don't leave it lying around. As a matter of fact, when you get your mail out of the mail box, look at it right then and throw away all junk mail as soon as you see it. Open your bills right away and then file them. Make a folder for `paid' bills and a folder for `unpaid' bills.

Things to keep:

* Canceled checks

* Tax papers

* Health records

* Credit card records

* Records of investments

* Wills

* Tax returns

You can safely throw away:

* Expired insurance policies

* Non-tax related checks

* Records for things you no longer own.

* Pay stubs going back more than two years.

Things to keep in a safety deposit box:

* Deeds

* Birth and marriage certificates

* Passports

* Stock and bond certificates

* A list of all insurance policies.

* Hard to replace papers

Doing these few simple things can organise your paper clutter and it's not really that difficult to do. Make up your mind that you will take one day, such as a Saturday, and begin this task.

When you are finished you will be very pleased at how all of your papers have a certain place and you will be amazed at how easy it will be to find a certain paper or bill when you need it.

Office supply stores have many kinds of filing systems. Look around at one of these stores and you will be sure to find just what you need.
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