imageWhen I collect the mail I do a quick sort according to the type of mail. Magazines, catalogs, bills, invitations and announcements of activities, junk mail, correspondence and could.

Magazines and Catalogs

  • I have a basket near my favorite chair for my magazines and catalogs. A catalog is only kept if I have a need for it. If I keep a catalog, I remove the last issue of that catalog from my basket.
  • If I find I am not reading a magazine, I do not renew the subscription!
  • I keep a couple of issues of a magazine. Whatever magazines I am finished with I donate to the library, leave in waiting rooms (doctor, dentist, wherever) or recycle.

Labels for a Simple File System

  • My Desk
    My Desk

    I have posted labels in the Files section. They are Avery Standard 8166. You can cut and paste to your own file labels. I keep these my simple file system in a portable file. The labels are To Do, To Read, To Pay, To File. I also have labels for each month of the year and for Income taxes. 

More about those later.

Sorting the Mail.

My File Box for My Simple Filing System
My File Box for My Simple Filing System–It has handles so I can take it wherever I need to work on my files.

As I sort the mail,

  • the bills (without unneeded inserts) go into the To Pay file.
  • Invitations and announcements of activities are noted on the calendar and placed in the To Do file.
  • Offers and newsletters I want to take a closer look at go into the To Read file.
  • Junk mail goes directly into the trash.
  • Credit card offers should be shredded. People can pick through your trash and apply for credit cards in your name with these offers.


Coupons that I will use go into a tote that I sort through regularly. I carry it in my car. I was finding myself at the store without good coupons. (The $1.00 ones!) I go through coupons several days before the end of the month so I can use coupons before they expire. Coupons are only of benefit if they are used for things you will use. Loading your cart, spending your grocery money and filling your cabinets with foods and other you will not use is a waste of space and money.

I go through the files on the time I have chosen for my desk day. (Wednesday).

Simple File System

The To Do, To Pay, To Read, and To File files can be useful if you use them. If you don’t they just become another piece of clutter.
These files keep your mail sorted but you need to chose a time each week to go through each file, pay the bills and do the filing. Put that time as an appointment in your planner.

My Favorite Filing Sytem

The Homefile Financial planning kit, available on or, is a terrific system for all your files. It has an index for the front of the file that tells you where to file all the types of papers related to our finances. Then a guide for each section tells you what to file there, what not to file there, and when to discard the different papers.

Topical File
I also have a topical file for my takeout menus, Red Hat info, family files, genealogy, places we want to visit (local and away). A topical file will be unique to you and your interests.

Tax Files
Each year in January I set up tax files for the year. The labels are in the labels doc. Whenever I get a piece of paper I will need for my taxes I drop it in the file. When it’s time to do my taxes I do not have to search for anything. I keep pay vouchers, receipts from the pharmacy and doctors’ offices, personal property tax receipts, and anything else tax related in these files.

Monthly File for Receipts
My monthly files are with my To Do, To Pay. . . files. I put all my receipts and paid bills in those files. I throw away any unneeded receipts (fast food, groceries, gas) I keep receipts for items I may have to return. I also staple receipts for appliances or other large ticket items inside the front of the instruction/warranty books that come with the appliance/item. Every few month I review the papers in the monthly files and put them in an envelope labeled Receipts with the year noted. This is a great improvement for me over all the grocery bags of papers I had in the 1970’s-80’s.


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