Tips for Organising the Finances & Filing

This post is sponsored by Origin Energy

If not managed, paperwork and your finances can easily get out of control. Organising the finances and creating a system to keep your online bills and/or paperwork tidy takes a little bit of planning, however having a good system in place will result in:

  • less stress, because you can easily find what you are looking for
  • helps you keep up to-do date with your household budget
  • a tidier office – meaning you can find things much easier when needed.

In our old house we had a filing cabinet where we kept everything tidily filed away. However, we don’t have room for the filing cabinet in our current office, it’s currently sitting in our garage. Filing cabinets are great for keeping your paperwork organised, but they are large, heavy and hard to find a space for in many homes. I needed to come up with another solution for organising the finances and filing that we wanted to keep within arms reach in the office and with many businesses improving ways of paying bills it’s helping to reduce the paper clutter.

Organising finances and filing in a small space can be hard, but it is achievable. This system for organising paperwork without a filing cabinet in your office will help you keep all your bills and other paperwork ordered and tidy.


Organising bills received electronically

In previous years I would keep copies of the bills received in the mail in my Bill Organiser, however times have changed and we don’t receive many bills by mail anymore, instead we get copies via email.  Businesses are coming up with new and improved ways for us to pay our bills and try to take away any hassle involved.

Gone are the days of having to write and post cheques or line up at the post office to pay your bills, you can now pay bills online. Some options are:

  • DIRECT DEBIT -it’ll automatically pay your bills straight from your bank account or credit card when they’re due.
  • BPAY – make the payment by internet or phone banking.
  • PAYMENT PLANS – help you have more control over your finances with options to pay your bill in wekly fortnightly or monthly instalments

When we receive our bills by email we save a copy of the invoice, (with some energy companies – Origin included, you can see these bills in your online account), however I also save it on my computer. I rename it to help me easily identify the period this invoice was for.  ie. below I have an invoice for our Jan-March electricity. I keep all invoices within folders for each provider, then by year.

Organising finances and filing in a small space can be hard, but it is achievable. This system for organising paperwork without a filing cabinet in your office will help you keep all your bills and other paperwork ordered and tidy.


Tips for organising the finances & filing without a filing cabinet

Here are a few steps to create a ‘non-filing cabinet’ organised filing system for your paperwork.

Organising finances and filing in a small space can be hard, but it is achievable. This system for organising paperwork without a filing cabinet in your office will help you keep all your bills and other paperwork ordered and tidy.

Sort your pile of paperwork

Sit in a big clear area on the floor with your pile of paperwork.  Sort it into like piles. ie. phone bills together, insurance papers together, bank statements together etc.

Categorise your paperwork

Grab a pen and paper and write down the paperwork you have piled.  You will find that these piles can be categorised into groups such as:

  • Bills
  • Home and Auto
  • Medical and Pets

Organising finances and filing in a small space can be hard, but it is achievable. This system for organising paperwork without a filing cabinet in your office will help you keep all your bills and other paperwork ordered and tidy.

These folders and dividers are available from Kmart.

Create a system

I have a cabinet in our home office that is perfect please to put my new filing system. I have used the 3 categories listed above, in each I have placed plastic dividers which I have labelled for easy identification.

BILLS – I use the pages of my Bill Organiser to keep information such as our bank account, credit card and loan details all in one place.

Divider labels: Bills Due, Bank Accounts, Loans, Bills Received, Tax.  I also have plastic sleeves behind to store all my receipts for tax purposes.

The repayment plan allows me to keep track of how much we still have owing on our loans. I also use these pages to keep track of money the kids have borrowed from me.

HOME & AUTO – In this folder I keep all home and car insurance details, along with maintenance records ie. a copy of the invoice for the last car service so we can keep track of what has been repaired. As well as repairs we have had to do around the house, to the airconditioner, pool etc.

Divider labels: Home Insurance, Home Repairs, Home General, Car Insurance, Car Maintenance

Organising finances and filing in a small space can be hard, but it is achievable. This system for organising paperwork without a filing cabinet in your office will help you keep all your bills and other paperwork ordered and tidy.

MEDICAL & PETS – When I visited the doctor recently for the kids and myself, she printed out information that I can take home and read, along with pathology sheets to have on hand to get my cholesterol checked in 3 months time. I have labelled the dividers for each family member to place information for easy reference. Plus… can’t forget the pets, I keep all our cats vet bills in her divider so I can easily look back and see what they performed during her regular check ups.

Divider labels: Health Insurance, the name of each family member, name of pets

Filing System

I file away all the items mentioned above into the folders when I receive them, I don’t store them anywhere to file later as I know it will just keep piling up, filing piles bug me.  So for me, it’s easiest to do it straight away, like the one touch rule.

In the top section of my filing area I have two magazine files.  One is for kids school notes that I need to action, once actioned (ie signed) it then goes elsewhere. The other magazine file is for unopened mail, once opened it’s then dealt with and filed away. I also keep pens here which the kids can use, as I have my favourite pens on my desk and it drives me bonkers when the kids take them and I can’t find them.

Organising finances and filing in a small space can be hard, but it is achievable. This system for organising paperwork without a filing cabinet in your office will help you keep all your bills and other paperwork ordered and tidy.

All of our very important information such as birth and marriage certificates, passports are kept in another safe location. I have a different system for storing and organising the kid’s schoolwork

I hope this system can help you organise all your paperwork in your home.


Choosing simple ways to manage finances

As well as filing billing paperwork or emails in an organised manner, there’s also paying them. While it’s a regular occurrence, it can still be overwhelming at times to get bills through the year and not know what’s coming. But Origin Energy has recently launched an option to help with this, and it means that their customers pay the same amount for energy every month, for 12 months.

ORIGIN’S PREDICTABLE PLAN – Predictable Plan is an option which allows Origin customers to pay a fixed amount every month for the energy they use. This means you’d know the cost of your energy for a whole year.  No matter how much you use! I like this A LOT as our energy bills are ‘unpredictable’, with some bills surprisingly higher than the last; this could be because we have used the air/heater more, pool running longer during the warmer months or I’ve used the dryer a lot more etc.

  • It’s predictable – pay a fixed amount for 12 months no matter how much you use
  • Available for electricity or natural gas
  • No price increases during the 12 month period
  • Easy budgeting – choose fortnightly or monthly payments and know exactly what’s coming
  • Tailored pricing for each customer and their home
  • Hassle free- with direct debit payments are made automatically and can align with your pay cycle
  • No exit fees – change to another plan at any time
  • Schedule payments with your personal pay cycle
  • Green energy options available

So, regardless of how much electricity or natural gas you use, using Origin’s Predictable Plan you will pay the same amount for your energy each month or fortnight.

Find out more:  About Origins Predictable Plan

If you’re not an Origin customer you can easily switch over, then after three months of billed usage you’ll be eligible for Predictable Plan.

What do you struggle to keep organised in your home office?

This post was coordinated by The Remarkables Group and run in accordance with my disclosure policy.

Organising finances and filing in a small space can be hard, but it is achievable. This system for organising paperwork without a filing cabinet in your office will help you keep all your bills and other paperwork ordered and tidy.

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66 comments

Anne At Home April 14, 2016 - 6:26 AM

Fantastic tips! My “office” is a tiny writing desk behind a sofa in the family room. I have to keep it tidy as its “on show” so I keep a large rectangular basket on the floor beside it ( hidden by the couch) with all my ring binders stacked vertically in it. I have your bill organiser in there, a school file for notes etc, and a home file. I have a pretty basket on the desk as my in tray, where unopened mail & items that require action are kept. Like you, important stuff like certificates & passports are kept elsewhere. It’s a system that works well for me. But my computer filing system is a mess! I loved seeing how you organise your electronic files, could you do a post on organising the digital filing system?! If all my computer files were on paper I would have a couple of roomfuls I’m sure. It seems too huge a job to tackle, but it really is a mess in there, I’m sure there are others like me out there who need help! Thank you x

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife April 14, 2016 - 10:03 AM

Absolutely I should share how I organise photos and more! Love the idea of your system though it seems to work for you which is fab!!

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Bec September 9, 2016 - 10:02 AM

I would definitely love to see how you organise photos and especially creation of photo books/albums. I have 3 kids and cannot work out how to begin albums…I wanted to do a first 5 years photo book for each of them but then I get overwhelmed thinking at what point do I have a single family album ? Will be a big job!

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cyndee October 11, 2021 - 8:14 AM

Wow! I am so impressed with this article, and the relevant pictures. I could actually see myself implementing these strategies to improve our home office organisation. Yay, I’m looking forward to everything having a proper place.

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Amanda April 14, 2016 - 8:57 AM

I have wanted to make a filing system here at home for so long, but had no idea where to start, like you, we don’t have a filing cabinet and I couldn’t think of an idea on how to file them… why didn’t I think of folders. Thanks Kat, I’m going to add this to my weekend list of things to do!!

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife April 14, 2016 - 9:55 AM

I think filing cabinets are top of mind when it comes to filing the paperwork, but there are other ways to keep it all organised and tidy. Folders are a great way to keep everything in one place. Have fun creating your system on the weekend 😉

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Jasmine R April 14, 2016 - 8:58 AM

Love this space Kat so fresh, you have inspired me to sort through my pile of paperwork and create a better system.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife April 14, 2016 - 9:53 AM

So pleased that this has given you some inspiration, good luck with creating a new system 🙂

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Carmel Corry April 14, 2016 - 9:43 AM

I learnt a long time ago that I was never going to get into the habit of filing things straight into my filing cabinet. The paper-pile just grew and grew and was so stressful. I invested in 8 cheap cardboard filing boxes and labelled them clearly. Now I just walk passed them and drop the paperwork into the correct box. That way I can always find what I’m looking for and they are in date order. Such a better system for me! Every now and then I turn the boxes upside down and put the older things into the recycling bin. Perfect 🙂

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife April 14, 2016 - 5:37 PM

Sounds like a really easy system Carmel!!

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Valeta September 20, 2017 - 12:12 AM

I love what Carmel said and her system. I’d like to know what she has them labeled?

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Tanya April 14, 2016 - 5:12 PM

This space looks great. I have files on a floating shelf but feel they are becoming too heavy for the shelf. Could you please tell me where you bought the cabinet from that you have the files on. This is my school holiday project.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife April 14, 2016 - 5:37 PM

I love floating shelves, so stylish, but yes they can’t get too heavy. This is a Besta unit from Ikea.

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Rochelle April 14, 2016 - 6:35 PM

I signed up to that Predictable Plan just recently, I think it’s going to turn out in my favour of a course of a year, but mostly like you say Kat, it’s great to know now exactly how much I am paying each month.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife April 15, 2016 - 12:37 PM

It will certainly help when it comes to the family budget knowing exactly what you are spending each month!!

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Pauline H April 14, 2016 - 7:58 PM

And to add to your system Kat, the ATO now have an app where you can photograph your receipts, etc, for tax purposes. Its relatively new but might help reduce your ‘paper foot print’ even more!!

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Carolyn April 15, 2016 - 9:28 AM

Health Funds are doing the same for medical claims.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife April 15, 2016 - 12:43 PM

Brilliant!! Most businesses are getting on board which is fabulous to see.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife April 15, 2016 - 12:38 PM

wowsers I didn’t know that Pauline thank you, it looks like everybody is going digital, saves with paper clutter!

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Paula December 29, 2017 - 11:58 AM

We have rental property so my files are pretty full. I store a lot of files I have to keep long-term on my Google drive. I use an app called cam scanner to “scan” receipts and I email them to an email address I use only for rental. You could set up a special email address to use for any business or for teachers supplies or whatever.

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Carolyn April 15, 2016 - 9:27 AM

Thanks for the information. I recently moved interstate and was surprised by how much paper I had accumulated and so made it my mission to eliminate as much as possible. I am having as many bills, statements etc emailed to me (and making some noise to the companies that won’t!) and anything I do get in paper form I am scanning to my computer using a wifi scanner/printer and then shredding the original. If needed for follow up I can just flag it electronically too. This has made such a difference to my life 🙂

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife April 15, 2016 - 12:42 PM

So many businesses are changing to sending all bills digitally, it does help making it easier to store the paperwork. Love your system, it would certainly make it easier for you.

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Brendon April 15, 2016 - 1:56 PM

What app is on your computer? I love the big clock as the screensaver!

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife April 15, 2016 - 6:27 PM

Hi Brendon, you can download it from http://fliqlo.com/

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Kate April 15, 2016 - 2:02 PM

Thanks so much. This is really useful as I am drowning in paperwork at the moment!! I would love to know how you organise photos. My New years Resolution for the last 5 years has been to organise my photos but each year when I go to start I get completely overwhelmed! I have hard copy photos plus lots of digitally saved photos on computers and harddrives. Where to start??

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife April 15, 2016 - 6:28 PM

Hi Kate, I’ve received heaps of emails in the past few days asking to write about photo organisation, so I will try and get around to doing this soon 🙂

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Leanne April 17, 2016 - 8:31 PM

Hi, love how neat it looks and the colour choice. Can I ask where you got the boxes on the shelf under the clock I have been looking for something similar.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife April 18, 2016 - 8:40 AM

Hi Leanne, these are from Kmart, the store all our extra stationery, ie, lead pencils, tape refil etc.

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LEanne April 22, 2016 - 11:44 AM

Thank you, off to kmart I go. You have given me inspiration to get my study looking neat.

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Deanne April 24, 2016 - 1:38 AM

For how long do you keep paper for. I having folder systems in place but not sure how long to keep information for?

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Sherelle Lock May 2, 2016 - 12:00 PM

I heard it was for five years now Deanne

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Pauline H May 2, 2016 - 12:55 PM

Check http://www.ato.gov.au for how long to store taxation records. Check with the relevant sources of the paperwork as to how long to keep them.
Personally I keep the whole previous financial year of bills, etc, and then at end of year chuck/shred the old stuff. I keep all my bank statements but I think you need to keep them for about 4years but check with your bank. (I used to work for a bank so we would do this regularly!)
Oh & purchase a good paper shredder if you haven’t already. 😉

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Sherelle Lock May 2, 2016 - 11:09 AM

Was wondering where/what you do with your paperwork when the new financial year starts. How do you store these items?

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife May 2, 2016 - 5:32 PM

Hi Sherelle I will put the past financial year in our filing cabinet, but if you don’t have one I would suggest an archive box for past years.

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Megan May 2, 2016 - 9:17 PM

Excellent use of space utilising folders rather than a filing cabinet. Our set up is exactly the same as yours. Filing cabinet is now in the garage and I NEVER file things away. I’m going to sort into piles, start using folders for my main groups and get it organised into a workable system. This area is my only problem – for the longest time. Now I have a plan at least! I already am with Origin and pay an amount each week, it is the BEST way and the bills never bank up. It’s a great feeling getting the bill each quarter and it’s either already in credit or I have the tiniest amount to pay.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife May 3, 2016 - 9:08 AM

that must make budgeting so much easier for your Megan!

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ASHLEY May 23, 2016 - 11:18 AM

I love your binders where did you get them?

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife May 23, 2016 - 11:39 AM

these are from Kmart Ashley 🙂

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Kate September 9, 2016 - 8:27 PM

Hi Kat! Just wondering where you got your magazine holders from? Love the colour 🙂

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Megan September 10, 2016 - 10:25 AM

Hi Kate! In the article it says they were available from K Mart. They’re gorgeous, aren’t they?! ?

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife September 14, 2016 - 8:43 AM

Thanks Megan, yes Kate they are from Kmart.

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Leah October 18, 2016 - 8:03 PM

I have a paper filing system for the things that I haven’t yet gone electronic with, but I have discovered a very handy (and visual) way of keeping track of bills that need to be paid. I pay most things on credit card, but for things such as credit card statements I set up a BPAY transaction dated in advance for the due date as soon as I receive them, and then put them in a filing pocket until the end of the month.

Since I don’t want to pay the rest of my bills with credit card until they are actually due, I place them in a mini clipboard folder until they are due, but the trick is, as a bill goes into the folder I remove a little plastic Post-it flag with the name of the bill on it (e.g. Telstra or Origin), and place it on my family wall calendar on the day that the bill is due to be paid. A quick glance at the calendar tells me when I need to pay my bills. As a bill is paid I put the Post-it note back into the clipboard folder with the other Post-it flags to re-use and move the bill to my filing pocket for checking to the next credit card statement when it arrives.

It also helps that my hubby can see when the bills are due and can either remind me or pay them himself to save me the bother.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife October 19, 2016 - 10:41 AM

your system sounds great Leah, I love learning how others do it too!!

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sandi October 20, 2016 - 8:24 AM

organized no s in it….love your ideas THANK YOU

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife October 21, 2016 - 11:49 AM

I’m Aussie we put S in it 🙂

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Katarina van Nimwegen January 24, 2017 - 11:15 AM

Hi Kat,
Love your blog!
I use a binder for my bills to be paid . i have dividers -Jan–Dec and the bills go straight in to the moth they are due.
I am not very good with technology so if anyone has any advise on how to go papeless on the computer I would love some help. I’m just not sure how to create files to store incoming bills so that they dont get missed.
Katarina

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Gegro July 19, 2017 - 1:45 AM

Thank for your good idea.I alway have problem with my mess paper in my office.

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Megan September 20, 2017 - 11:25 AM

Hi Kat, so it has been over a year since I’ve implemented your folder system instead of the filing cabinet. What a great swap. Not one rego paper has been misplaced, all certificates are where they should be, I had an issue with the home insurance yesterday and found the policy in 20 seconds. All bank statements (from separate accounts) are still all organised and best of all everything is just as organised as the day I did it. I no longer have that overwhelming paper pile feeling.
Thank you!

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife September 21, 2017 - 9:28 AM

Oh that’s wonderful feedback. Thank you Megan

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Nadine November 7, 2017 - 6:37 PM

Just a question about the house hold filing I may have missed… what do you do with your older paperwork like 2/3 years ago? I have a system for the current year but I am trying to find a better way to archive without using a filing cabinet. Would love any ideas as I am having a mental blank ? thanks

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife November 20, 2017 - 10:56 AM

Have you got some archiving boxes or plastic tubs. They can be easily stored in the back of the linen cupboard or garage

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Petula November 17, 2017 - 9:37 PM

I am still using a filing cabinet, but recently purchased a desk that has a filing drawer. That means the things I access frequently are within reach and other files are in a two-drawer cabinet. Years ago my cat daughter bought me a life organizer binder, but it didn’t work for me long term.

One thing I’m horrible about is filing and processing paperwork right away. I just moved a few months ago and I have a seemingly endless amount of papers to go through and filed out discard. There is so much to go through when taking care of a house and children that I feel overwhelmed if pressed for time. I’m going to try processing paperwork at the beginning of end of the day every day. That should help me to keep a handle on things.

This is a great post with a lot of helpful tips.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife November 20, 2017 - 10:57 AM

Great to hear that my post helped you Petula. There is a saying that is something like ‘A little a day, keeps it at bay’

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Kellie January 9, 2018 - 9:51 PM

Hi Katrina, Im just curious If you still store all your files on your computer or use things like dropbox? Im just starting to move to digital filing instead of paper but I also dont want to slow my computer down too much?

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife January 11, 2018 - 10:29 AM

Hi Kellie, You can always use a back up Hard drive, that way you won’t take up too much room on your computer and you have it safely stored

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Guidem January 17, 2018 - 11:38 PM

Very nice tips for finance, thank you to share this guide line.

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Monerath February 14, 2018 - 2:20 AM

I was more than happy to uncover this great site. I need to to thank you for your time due to this fantastic read!! I definitely enjoyed every bit of it and I have you bookmarked to see new information on your blog.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife February 14, 2018 - 8:59 AM

Oh that’s great to hear. Thank you

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Josie February 23, 2018 - 4:22 PM

Hi Katrina, just wondering what font you used for the labels on the outside of your binders?

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife February 27, 2018 - 1:20 PM

Oh I am so sorry I made these so long ago, I can’t remember

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Jodie March 30, 2018 - 1:58 AM

HI Katrina,
I love your system! I have a question about the inside of the binders. How do you store the paperwork inside the binders? Do you put each individual paper in a plastic sleeve or do you have folders? I’m working on switching to binders and trying to decide how to handle medical statements, receipts, etc. Especially receipts that I need to keep since they are smaller.

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YURA June 19, 2018 - 4:08 PM

good idea Ms KATRINA, I will follow your idea

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Juddy February 5, 2019 - 2:43 AM

good idea, You’re great katrina, that is it

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Jennifer January 17, 2019 - 10:27 AM

Hi Kat
Love your electronic bill filing. Just wondering how you record or note the date you paid these bills? I would write that on my paper copy usually so looking for a new way.

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Stevee April 21, 2020 - 10:36 AM

Great idea, I will follow your idea Katrina!!

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife April 23, 2020 - 3:22 PM

Glad you found it useful Stevee 🙂

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