Paper Trails

I am notorious for not holding on to receipts. I can’t stand the clutter of all those tiny, useless pieces of paper. Receipts are so small and seemingly insignificant – every single day I find old ones shoved into little nooks and crannies in my kitchen, my clothes, my wallet – you name it. It drives me crazy! And I tend to keep everything that I purchase, so what’s the point of holding on to the receipt?

Well, to be honest, I still don’t really hold on to the little ones. A few groceries and household necessities from Walmart and I toss the receipt. But I DO hold on to the major ones. Receipts for monthly bills, car purchases, rentals, etc. Things that I may need to review or have in my records for some weird, crazy reason.

And, if you live in an apartment like I do, you don’t really have room for a desk or a gigantic file cabinet to hold everything. And so that brings me to step 1 in getting your blasted paperwork organized: finding something to NEATLY hold your loose papers (which won’t be loose anymore). I recently discovered these small storage boxes that are designed for files (you’ve probably seen them in your local stores, they aren’t a new invention or anything).


I bought two of them, and it’s been more than enough space for the things that I keep. I found mine at Walmart and Target, but I’m sure that any other office supply store or home deco store will carry them.

The next thing to do when you’re trying to get your papers organized is to buy a box of file folders. I usually snag mine from my office, which are just basic, nude-colored files. I also have colored ones, but unless you are color-coordinating your categories, it really doesn’t make a difference which ones you use.

The most important step is to LABEL YOUR FILES. For example, mine are labeled according to content: Bella & Roca, Wells Fargo, Health Insurance, Auto Insurance, and-so-on-and-so-forth. I have a general utilities file, but if you feel you need to sort your papers even further, you can make individual ones according to gas, electricity, cable, Wi-Fi, etc.

organizing folders

I am über organized, so all of my folders are alphabetized, and also organized in each box according to how often I need access to the folder. My main box holds the files for my insurance, monthly bills, and my dogs. Obviously, your folders of importance will probably differ from mine, so organize it in a way that suits you and will make it easiest for you when you need to grab a folder or file something away.

The final step in this process is to find a NOT SO OBVIOUS place to store your boxes. This means, do not leave them on your kitchen counter. If someone was to break in, and found a file with your social security info and birth certificate just sitting and waiting, you’d be screwed. If you live in a small, rented space like me, this is limiting because you can’t sink a safe into the ground or anything like that; however, I keep mine in my bedroom, somewhat hidden, but easy enough for me to get to. If you know you’ll be getting into your boxes on a regular basis, DO NOT store them somewhere that is difficult to get to. It will keep you from staying organized and that pile of receipts will just start to build up again.

It’s not that difficult to stay organized! Just don’t be lazy – and if you have a busy schedule and don’t have the time to store your bills and receipts every day, then set aside 30 or so minutes at the end of every week to get everything organized and put away. It will save you a lot of stress and (if you happen to have a need for a bill or receipt) a lot of time and energy as well.

*Word to the wise, any papers you are throwing out that have ANY sort of personal information on them should be shredded. Believe it or not, there are creeps that actually dig through garbage just to see if someone is careless enough to discard the blueprints of their entire life. Also, if you come across something that you don’t know if you’ll need again but don’t feel good about throwing out, stick it in a miscellaneous folder. I have one, and every few months or so I go through it and clean out the things that I realize I no longer need.