Organizing the Filing Cabinet

Here we go!

In my house, the filing cabinet is a fairly big an usually overwhelming task. Who wants to sit down and sort paperwork and place every piece of paper in correct chronological order anyway? I know I don’t. It’s like I told my friend, “I’ll know I’ve finally become an adult when I make my bed every morning”, well… I really feels like this follows suit. In my defence, I’ve switched a lot of our bills, statements and general filing cabinet items online. Therefore, there’s a lot less work going on in this paper-filled cabinet nowadays. I made a first attempt at this about 2 or 3 years ago, when the filing cabinet was about ready to burst, and it was well in need of another good going-over. This time, I made a few changes to make it easier for me to use on a steady basis. A lot of the old tabs and organization was outdated, and no longer relevant to our household, so that needed to be updated to the raw basics, with the addition of some new labels that I wished I had had over the years. This is what I started with:

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Look, I know a lot of people laugh at me when I say, “Go buy the pretty things! If it makes you happy, you’ll be more willing to use it!” But honestly, this is no joke. You know what prompted my re-organization of the filing cabinet? These pretty new folders! I bought them at the dollar store, and I love working with them. I wanted to see these suckers every time I opened the filing cabinet instead of those old drab plain folders that everyone else has, and it was just enough motivation for me to sit down and get it done.
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Aren’t they nice? You never know where you’ll find the pretties, so keep your eyes out for something that suits your tastes!

Anyway, the very first thing I did was whip out my new label maker. Easy to use, a good amount of options, etc. etc. etc. and I broke down what labels I use, the ones I didn’t and which new ones I should add. Obviously these may differ in your household, so you should figure out what paperwork you feel you need to keep, and how you want to organize it. For me the categories were as follows:
-Bills
Power
Phone
Phone/Internet
-Accounts
Credit Cards
Bank Statements
-Income
Taxes
Pay Stubs
-Vehicle
Registrations
Insurance
-Warranties (This was an important new addition)
Electronics
Batteries
Living Room
Kitchen
Appliances
Other
-Barbara D. Photography
Contracts
Model Release Forms
Receipts

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After my labels were done, my next task was to go through the paperwork that was currently being stored in my filing cabinet. I shred pretty much anything that comes out of here for a heads up, in case you were wondering. You might feel as though you don’t need to, if you store something non-personal, don’t worry about it, but it’s a safe bet that you want to shred anything that might give someone the ability to steal your money. I tossed anything that was before 2012 unless it had a special significance, think income tax paperwork. Many things didn’t, and therefore a vast amount of my papers disappeared. Once I had finished going through that whole mess, my filing cabinet already started to feel much more manageable and I hadn’t even put any folders in there yet! So I emptied my filing cabinet and went from there.

I began by using the hanging folders in a colour-coded system, instead of just throwing them in however I wanted to. Yellow = Financial (I would’ve preferred green, but couldn’t find any!), Red = Business, Blue = Important General Paperwork. So I put my label-maker to work again, and got to work with the categories. Once they were placed in the filing cabinet, I added the sub-category folders to them as well.

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Then, all that was left was to throw in the remaining paperwork!
BEFORE:
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AFTER:
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Hahaha, please disregard the idiot date-stamp, I never remember to change/get rid of it!

Isn’t that much nicer? The larger labels are easier for me to read, the simple system I put in place makes it easier for me to find everything, the addition of a “warranties” area makes my life tons easier when something breaks down, especially car batteries! I am still working on improving this, so when I get my new budget underway I’ll probably devote another spot for that, as well as one for each of my kids as they age and begin creating paperwork for me to look after. But for now, this works, and I’m using it.

If you’re reorganizing your filing cabinet, these are my biggest recommendations:
1) Go through your current paperwork. Make a list of new categories you need, and omit those that you’re not using anymore.
2) If it’s over a year (max. 2) old, toss it. EXCEPTION: Income tax paperwork.
3) Keep it simple. Go back to basics. You can add more if you find you really need to, but if you make it too complicated, you may lose track of where exactly you put that bill since it appropriately goes into three of your folders ;).
4) Put your paperwork in chronological order, either back to front or front to back, but decide now and do the same thing for all folders.
5) If you can keep it online, do it! I’ve begun saving the .pdf files to a usb drive in case I need them for future use. Much less space than all of that old paperwork!

Let me see pictures of your new filing cabinet using the hashtag #3toa10life!

Keep going, it’s the only way you’ll make it there!
Barb

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The launch of 3toa10life.com

Hey guys!

Just finished updating my blog, I said when I reached a certain amount of followers I would off the .wordpress.com bit and I’ve reached that goal! So, now everything is just under 3toa10life.com!

Squeeek! Excitement, the next step is to host my own domain or something, but I’m not anywhere near that… because, to be honest. That stuff totally scares me, lol. I’m not very good with technical stuff and I anticipate many problems when I switch to that. For the meantime, this works great, and I want to thank you for your support!

 

Much love!

Barb

Have money, will spend. (Budget Envelope Introduction)

Part of my organization and clean-up is my financials. I keep telling myself that I’ll go pull out money for this and that when I get a chance, and next thing I know… POOF! The money seems to have vanished. Am I the only one this happens to?

Didn’t think so ;).

There are two “worst parts” to this for me personally, number one… it makes no difference if it’s $500 or $5000, if it sits in the bank account, it’ll be gone before the next pay. Secondly, it doesn’t seem like we’re living a much more enriched life or anything if I spend it as opposed to bank it away. At least if we had a ton of awesome stuff to enjoy it would feel slightly more acceptable… but we don’t.

So now that we’ve wasted some money over the past few weeks, I’ve decided it was really time for a change. I want to be able to save more for the more important things in life! My dreams include travelling with my children, going out to places you dream about… I would love to see Australia and New Zealand one day. So, now what I’ve done is gone over my expenses and come up with these envelopes. I made them all from my random scrapbooking paper, because beautiful things make me happy, and at the end of the day, if it’s pretty I am more likely to use it. I know, I know, it’s stupid… but… why not?

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There are seven envelopes:
Gas 1
Gas 2
Groceries 1
Groceries 2
Bills
Mastercard
Extras
(Others you might want to include would be Rent/Mortgage, each separate bill, Children’s activity fund, or gym/classes fund)

These are our regular monthly expenses and it just about covers everything. Because of pay days, we get paid once a week, however, we tend to focus on a bi-weekly system. What I want to work down to is filling the envelopes once with the first pay of the month, and top them up throughout the month if absolutely necessary. This method will get the money out of my easy access, since I’ll no longer be able to simply swipe a card with seemingly endless possibilities. It makes sure that we’ve covered our basics (not that we’ve ever been in such a bad position that we couldn’t, I enjoy spending money… but I’m not THAT compulsive). Also, taking the money out means more will go directly into our savings, which is ALWAYS a good thing.
Beginning next month, I’m also going to start tracking receipts and transactions so that I can get a clearer image of what exactly it is that I’m spending money on and I can adjust my budget accordingly. My guess for the big money drain? Junk food. It’s time we started going full out grocery shopping again so that we don’t need to make a trip to the store every night to get supper. This is awful for so many reasons! But mainly in this instance I’m talking about the budget reason. I can usually feed this household three meals a day, for seven days (at least 3 adults and two children) for less than $200 a week. Usually, it’s more like $160. I hear that that’s nearly impossible, but with healthy, whole foods, I can do it all the time. All I need is the motivation to sit down and fully prepare a list. This is starting again now, due to this budget. I refuse to waste hard-earned money on crap food, which is just pushing me further away from both my health goals, as well as the financial goals I’m now coming up with!

The other plan I’m implementing with these envelopes is to pay my bills ON PAY DAY. I write down the exact amount I need to pay on each bill directly on my calendar located in my planner. On pay day, I just write “Pay bills” on the morning of to remind myself to look. This way I don’t have to look up all of my bills online and figure out how much I have to pay here and how much there, it’s all right there, no excuses. This way my bills are sure to be paid perfectly on time. I’m strongly considering putting aside an “emergency” fund as well, this way I could use it for things like replacing my windshield, instead of having to use either savings or having larger sums taken out of my pays.

Alright, well… I’m off to do a little more budgeting work to get this all figured out so that I can implement it next month. Should be including new meal plans too, since I’ll be making them myself!

Remember, if you don’t like the way you’re living… Change it!
Barb