Friday, January 06, 2006

How to organize bills and receipts

Now that the holidays are behind us, we've been jolted back to reality credit card bills for holiday shopping coming due. Before too long, we'll be getting tax forms from the IRS and state revenue departments. It's a good time to think about organizing bills and receipts.

The best advice that I've found for organizing bills and receipts came from the book Confessions of an Organized Homemaker by Deniece Schofield. Ms. Schofield recommends getting twelve file folders, one for each month of the year, and putting receipts and bills for a given month in the proper folder.

This system has served me well for many years. I've extended this idea to set up four hanging file folders, one for each quarter of the year:

Quarter 1: January-February-March
Quarter 2: April-May-June
Quarter 3: July-August-September
Quarter 4: October-November-December

I use a different color file folder for each quarter: for example, the three file folders for Quarter 1 might be red, while those for Quarter 2 are blue, those for Quarter 3 are yellow, and those for Quarter 4 are maroon.

For 2006, however, I've discovered something new: the File-it Calendar from Avalanche Publishing. Each calendar page is actually a file folder pocket in which you can store your receipts and bills. Each pocker has a fold-over tab closure to keep contents secure space on the back to record contents.

Once I've received the monthly bank or credit card statement, I check the receipts against the statement and shred those receipts that I won't need anymore. To prevent identity theft, I also shred mailing labels from catalogues and magazines that I'm going to pitch. I recommmend that everyone have a heavy-duty paper shredder.

At the end of the year, the folders can be moved to a twelve-pocket accordion folder.

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