Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Methods Madness Marathon!! Organization!!

OK...this wasn't the most glamorous day! In fact, it was a bit boring, but it has to be done. And, that is why I thought it was important to touch upon it before we begin focusing on each method.

Organizing spreadsheets, files, emails, coupons and paperwork is not fun. It probably isn't something most people look forward, too, but it is essential if you want to make and save the most amount of money.

If you don't keep all your data in an orderly manner, you will lose valuable items, misplace forms, forget to mail money saving information, etc, etc. Or, just as bad, it will take you twice as long to find things...thus wasting time. Remember, time is money...even if you are a stay at home mom like me. I didn't quit my job to be fumbling thru paperwork trying to desperately find a rebate form....I quit to spend time with my kids. What is your priority in life? Probably not scrambling around trying to find that lost receipt so you can get your price adjustment!

As we get into the actual methods over the next few weeks, I will attach each individual spreadsheet I use myself. So, I won't do that today. I will also discuss how I organize that particular method in my home.

But, I do want to touch on a few minor details you can do today to be prepared.

Every year, I move the old files out of our filing cabinet and into a box in the basement ( not forever...but for a few years ). This opens up my filing cabinet for the current year. That way, as mail, paperwork, etc comes across my desk, I can immediately file it away to be found quickly in the future. Reading my mail daily and filing it is one of the most important things I can do for myself.

So, today, I ran to the store and bought myself new manila folders. I am ready to go! Do you have yours? Do you have a place to file? It can be an actual filing cabinet, or it can be a leftover box from the Holidays. You just need something you can keep your folders in order!

We all know I talk about the benefit of having an email account for the different methods, but I have yet to talk about how I organize those mailboxes.

Just as Manila folders are important around the house, folders in your email account are also essential. Depending on which mailbox it is, I set up folders accordingly. For example, my mystery shopping email account has multiple folders. One for each company. That way, if I get confirmation or a verification that my report was accepted and I will receive payment, I would immediately move that email to the folder for that company for future documentation, if ever need be.
You can set your folders up anyway you like or as you need them, but the point is to not let your Inbox get overwhelmed and file the emails away if you want or need to keep them.

Yes, my envelope system again.
Do you currently have your January Receipts envelope in your purse or car already? If not, get on it!

One of the easiest and best ways to organize is by having an envelope for each month of the year. I used to keep the current month and 3 months past in my large "Mama" purse, but now that I have a smaller purse I can't.

So, now, the envelopes go into my glove box.

As soon as I get a receipt from anything, when I get back into the car, I will file it in the envelope. Now, I am ready for any store. Returns, Price Adjustments, etc are easy to manage when all I need to do is pull the appropriate month's envelope to look for the needed receipt.

Large Coupon Organizers

I am not talking about one for your grocery coupons ( although you need that, too ). I mean a large one that can fit store and restaurant coupons ( full page ads sometimes ). And, it needs to be portable.
See what you can find, but you want something that as your junk mail comes, and you find great grocery can immediately file them away and then put the filer back in your automobile. I keep mine out there almost all the time, so it is always with us if we need it.

It is great to have them handy, as you never know when you will find yourself needing to make a few purchases at Target and you want that $5 off coupon!
What do you do?

Tell us how you organize your paperwork! I am always up for new and easy ways to make our lives flow smoother, so I am all ears!
Then, finally, tomorrow, we will begin digging into actual methods, so you will be prepared to conquer them this year! :-)


TopazTook said...

I went through and organized a bunch of paperwork over the weekend. I put the forms for rebates that I'm considering doing in chronological order by expiration date: that way, it will be a reminder to me of which are about to expire.

I got one of those expandable plastic "checkbook" divided file folders at the dollar section of Target last year, and that's what I use for my non-grocery/drugstore coupons. I keep that, my grocery/drugstore coupon organizer, and my binder with my newspaper circulars together in a tote bag. The tote bag is what usually lives in my car.

Broke Bettie said...

I don't think your day was boring at all...I'm actually a bit jealous!

Great work :)