The time has finally come; you are ready to tackle your unorganized financial paperwork. Yet you are not quite sure where to start, the piles seem endless. How are you supposed to do a budget or pay off debt when you can’t even figure out where your desktop is?
Don’t worry; with a bit of time and patience you can have a fully functioning plan for organizing paperwork and your bills!
To begin to get organized you first need to have all of your paperwork in one place. Walk around the house, grab all those papers from the kitchen, office, laundry room, your car – anywhere you have tossed your paperwork. You should be gathering everything from bills, receipts, medical statements, and tax information – anything that has to do with the well being of your money and household management.
Now begins the fun part! You will want to create the following categories to sort the paperwork into:
Don’t feel like you need to get this done all in one sitting. If it is a large overwhelming pile then set up 10 to 15 minute time blocks to work through the pile. As new stuff comes in the house set it on top for immediate processing. Add this time to your schedule so you do not miss it; consider it an appointment that is required. Small time blocks can be a great way to get things done without overwhelming yourself.
Once you have your piles sorted it is time to set up a system to handle each pile and to manage future incoming paperwork. This is the point where one system does not fit all; everyone has a different style of organizing paperwork efficiently. It is important for you to take the time to set up a plan that works for you.
For example, I am a pile person. If something is going to get done it needs to be in a pile on my desk, or I will forget. So I have one place that all the personal paperwork goes. Once it has been handled then it needs to move to a permanent home whether this is a file cabinet, shredder or box depends on your personality. If I store it out of the way before it is done it will not get done.
Take the time to watch and see how you operate best. You might have to try a couple different set ups out to see what works best for you, they key is to keep trying and analyzing what works. Below are some general guidelines for spaces that you need to set up.
The real key in successfully staying organized and on top of your finances is to manage your money on a regular basis. When you get behind it can just be too overwhelming to even look at, let alone do something beneficial with it. So set aside some time every week to work on the items in the collection place. Once you have paid the bill or done the task, immediately file it away.
At the same time that you have a regular time to manage your finances, the more that you automate the easier and quicker that time will be. Slowly start automating all areas of your finances, even if it is just starting out with one thing. Some ideas on things to automate: bill payment, electronic statements, monthly investments, reconciling transaction with software, budgeting in software – really now a days the options are endless.
By implementing a system and managing it on a regular basis it is easy to have your financial paperwork organized. Don’t be scared of the pile – tackle the pile!
PS. I use almost the exact same system for my business finances!