Do you ever feel like you are surrounded by paper? You can prevent paper from accumulating in your home by changing some of your habits.
- Bills, Catalogs, Other Mail — Consider online statements or automatic payments to avoid paper billing altogether. If you prefer paper statements, pay them when you get them, if possible. This not only avoids clutter, but helps keeps your finances on track because you are less likely to lose or forget about a bill. Be sure to shred any paper bills with personal information on them. Try not to set mail down until you have decided which items you actually need. Be realistic. Recycle the rest immediately. If you must put it down without sorting through, always put it in the same spot, and keep a recycling bin very close. If you never buy from catalogs, get your name removed from the companies’ mailing lists so you won’t receive any. It’s better for you, better for the companies, and better for the environment.
- Coupons — Some people save hundreds of dollars with coupons. If you are never going to be one of those people, then be honest with yourself about it. Don’t save every coupon you see. Are you really going to use it by the expiration date? Do you even want that item? Save coupons you know that you will use, for businesses you visit often, or for products you actually want or need. Also, find out which of your favorite businesses or products have coupons available online so you can print them as you need them and they won’t clutter your home. A word of warning: do not use your personal email account if you sign up to receive coupons by email, because you will probably be spammed.
- School papers — If your child earned a great score on a test, make a big deal out of it and then put it on the refrigerator or recycle it. If an art project is special, frame it. You can’t keep ALL your child’s work, so let your child know how impressed you are by the really special ones, and let the rest go.
- Receipts — You don’t need that three-year old receipt for french fries, trust me. Save your receipts for anything expensive, tax-deductible, or otherwise important. File them according to date and review the file periodically.
- Manuals — Most product information can be found online, so most paper manuals aren’t needed. If in doubt, look it up.
- Loose Papers Saved for Reference — If you want to save some papers for later reference don’t just put them in a stack. Stacks get bigger; you don’t want that. Consider scanning individual pages for digital storage. If you need them in paper form, try folders in magazine holders, binders with plastic sheet protectors, and expanding or hanging files. Be sure to label and date everything and review it once a year. Be realistic about what you file. Most people file things they will never need.
If you make some simple changes in your lifestyle to prevent paper accumulation, you will soon see a change in the amount of paper in your home.