Clutter Begone: Household Paperwork

Two years ago when I had my little breakdown and hid under my covers for about six months, Chris took over paying our bills as a way to help me out. It was a HUGE load off of me. I was having trouble letting go of things, and money problems were a big stone I carried around in my pocket. Chris taking over the reins was a big switch for us. I’d handled our daily finances since we were married (we have always and still do make our family budget and big financial plans together), so giving that over to him was not easy. But it showed me how to trust him and how to ask for help. Two really important lessons I needed to learn in my marriage.

One byproduct of that transition was that Chris began to take on our mail, too. Since most of our mail deals with bills and things of that nature, he is the one who usually checks the mail and handles everything. Which is awesome. Except that Chris doesn’t like to throw ANYTHING away. He saves every flier, postcard, advertisement, or any other kind of junk mail we get. He has a few little spots he likes to collect these things in, which drives me crazy. But I haven’t said anything about it because I figured if he was handling that chore in our household, then he basically got to handle it however he wanted. He was doing me a favor, so I kept my mouth shut. But one day last week he mentioned that he hated having all these papers laying around our house. All he had to do was say the word, and I went into organizing overdrive!

It actually happened on accident. I found this amazing Pin on Pinterest about household organization, which sent me to this whole blog dedicated to organization, DIY projects, and – BONUS! – she’s a teacher! I meant to just look at the one blog post about organizing a mail center in your house, but I ended up spending almost an hour looking around her blog. If you’re interested in any kind of organization, especially in your house or classroom, this is the most straight-forward, practical, and helpful site I’ve found. I’m getting ready to share her mail center plan (because I copied it EXACTLY), but you should check her site out anyway. She has some incredible ideas that make you say, “Duh! Why didn’t I think of that!”

Most of our mail/misc. paperwork issue comes from all the junk mail that we receive. Tiffany at The Nest Effect solved this problem that I hadn’t even realized we had. She suggested using a website called From what I gathered, this site works like that national Do Not Call list you can get on to stop solicitation phone calls, only it stops solicitation and junk mail. I went online today and registered our household. I requested all homeowner, insurance, and banking junk mail be stopped. We must have gotten on some list because we bought a home recently because we must received 3-5 pieces of junk mail about homeowners needs every day. It’s ridiculous. I also deactivated our names from the category for credit reports and credit cards. I’m guessing we got on those lists at the same time as when we bought our house because we had to do all our credit reports and things. You can get even more detailed and request things like catalogs and magazines be stopped, but I love catalogs and don’t really receive all that many magazines. If that’s a problem, though, there’s a category for that.


With the incoming mail hopefully reduced, I tackled how we should handle the loose papers that just get thrown all over our house and into Chris’s little piles. Like Tiffany suggested, I went to Office Depot and bought a pack of 12 hanging files ($7.95) and a hanging file organizer ($8.00). While I was there I also found a great coupon organizer ($4.95) which I’ll blog about later this week.


Tiffany suggested taking a look at where most of your paperwork comes from and needs to go, and then selecting your categories for your files based on that. But I found that my categories were the exact same as hers, so I just used her list. I created files for incoming mail, outgoing mail, bills to pay, coupons, to file (for things that need to go in our actual family filing cabinet down in our basement), and then I made files for each person in our family.


Then, I collected all the little piles of papers around our kitchen and the rest of the house. I took care of everything that needed attention so that we started this week with a clean slate, and things that were still a work in progress were filed into my files. By the time I was done, everything had a place and everything was in it’s place.

When I showed this new system to Chris, he was happy that we’d found a solution, but he told me flat out that he probably wasn’t going to take the time to file anything away (thanks, dear). No problem! Tiffany thought of a solution to that, too. She suggested keeping a basket or container next to your file system so that you can sort through it later. So, Chris can toss everything into this one basket and at the end of the day when I clean the kitchen, I can put everything where it needs to go.


It may not look too attractive (I do intend to spruce it up a bit later using a super cute 31 Gifts file organizer my mom bought me, but it’s at school right now.  If you’re interested, it’s the Fold ‘n File for $25), but at least it will help keep the clutter out of our living space. Our biggest problem was that we didn’t have a place to put everything. And now we do! I’m hoping that this will really help us keep up with important things, and get rid of the clutter.

Stay tuned this week as I post about other organizing tips I’ve discovered in the past week to help get my house de-cluttered and better organized by the end of the year. Tomorrow I’ll share about my coupon organization, which was a complete mess before but is now so easy to use! And later this week I’ll talk about two solutions I’m using for all the kids artwork and projects from school.

Happy organizing!

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10 Thoughts to “Clutter Begone: Household Paperwork”

  1. Love it! Thanks for alerting us to that website. It will be a lifesaver around here!!

  2. Beanie and Gracie's Nana

    OH MAN! Went straight to the DMAchoice website to opt out of credit and insurance solicitations. So excited! My mailbox is literally crammed with this stuff everyday and its such a pain. Had no idea you could “opt out” of this crap. YAY for having such a smart daughter!!!!!

  3. Leah

    Did you enter your SS# on the credit sites. I’m a nervouse nelly about putting my SS# in when asked for it. Especially since it was just stolen from the state of SC and I’m having to deal with that already…what a mess! Just checking so I know if I do it and it’s a fraud I’m not the only one 😉

  4. Nikki

    This could not have come at a better time! My Husband and I are notorious for leaving mail and everything else on our kitchen table as a catch all. I think this is a great start to getting more organized and actually using the table for its intended purpose! I can’t wait to check her website out.

  5. Joke

    Awesome system! I may want to implement that here too, this house is also a paper mess…

  6. PK

    I made one of those and I LOVE it. It’s next to our recycle and shred bins so the paper we don’t need can go into the appropriate bin. I also stuck our checkbooks in one of the folders there and along the front I clip upcoming things to deal with like bills to pay or coupons (if I put them in a folder I forget about them – out of sight, out of mind). I’ve also made a two-pocket thing to keep our cash for grocery money and fun money. My categories are a little different – I have one for bills (which I occasionally sort and toss or take the our file cabinet), a medical folder for hubby and one for me, pay stubs, taxes (for related receipts and what-not), and a few others I’ve forgotten.

  7. I love it! I suck at organizing so maybe I need to create a better system like this 🙂

  8. […] the kitchen, aiming the general direction of my coupon organizer. But now I have a file folder in my mail center where I keep them. I just throw everything in there throughout the week, and then on Sundays I go […]

  9. Rachel @ The Ongoing Planner

    I found her blog about a year ago and we use this system as well 🙂 Makes the mail thing so much easier. Although our stack gets kind of big since we may only file once a week or so.

  10. […] everything put away on a daily basis. We just don’t have time (though I certainly tried with this little project a year ago). But having a Command Central that is out of the traffic flow of our household saves my […]

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