Friday, March 16, 2018

2018 Decluttering: Paper Purge Continues

As an organized person, I have to say I did a fantastic job of organizing the paper that came into our lives. But unfortunately, as a lover of the data and information I have kept far too much paper! Or at least kept it for too long. 

I have once again released more files! Yes, I did scan some documents for reference. The odds are low they will ever be needed, but this is the step I'm taking now. I have been ruthless, too. My future self doesn't need to know how much we bought our van for in 2008. It's irrelevant. It's paid for. We have the title. It's in the past. Yes, this is the kind of thing I find interesting and thus the reason I have saved paper for longer than needed. 

I shredded the 27 pieces of paper on the left. 

The pile on the right contains 33 EMPTY file folders which have accumulated over the course of the last month as I have been decluttering paper. I'm not tossing those yet or adding them to the count. I want to complete the entire paper decluttering process before making a decision on them. 

And just before I started to write this post, I went through the college mailings my daughter has been receiving these last few months. I cut the amount in half and found another 15 items to be recycled. 

As of this writing I have decluttered 1422 items in 2018. 
I know I've done a lot of paper, but it's hard work. It is definitely worth counting!!

Monday, March 12, 2018

2018 Decluttering: Old Mortgage Papers

I'm so excited! After doing the last two posts showing the files we have, I decided to see what I could  do to minimize the mortgage documents. We've owned three homes, but now currently rent due to military service. The last home sold almost three years ago. I read that you only need to keep documents three years after the sale of the home. 

38 pieces that did not need to be shredded! 

Part of the process was determining what documents were already on file with each county. I figured those are the important documents that would prove we had transferred legal ownership. All documents were correctly filed. Yay! 

I did scan some documents primarily from the last home we sold, since we are not at the full three year mark from the date of sale.  The odds of needing them are pretty slim at this point, but it took no time at all to get them scanned. 

Look at that! 139 pages that needed to be shredded. That is a thick stack of papers!

I did buy a new shredder recently and it does a great job slicing and dicing about 6-8 pages at a time. That means I'll be decluttering my old shredder later this month! 

The final product! Paper out to the trash bin, and three fewer files in our file cabinet. Specifically, that is another 177 items declutter towards the 2018 Decluttering Challenge! 

I specifically saved digitally the HUD statements and warranty deeds and original mortgage loan papers. All other papers were not needed for the two oldest homes. I have other documents from closing of the last house scanned, including 1099S, purchase agreements, and receipts for repairs done for the buyers. Eventually, some of those scanned documents can just be deleted from our digital folders. 

We really do not need to keep as much paper as we think we do! What can you let go of from your paper files this month? 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Minimalism: Papers In Our File Cabinet

I shared the files in our desk drawer yesterday, today you get to hear and see what is going on in our file cabinet. And this is after the latest purge of paper!

This is the top drawer of our filing cabinet. Here's what it contains:
  • Furniture receipts and manuals (only keep ones I can't find online)
  • Birth and Wedding Certificates, Passports
  • Oldest Daughter School papers (Preschool through High School)
  • Youngest Daughter School papers (Preschool through 9th grade)
  • Wills
  • College transcripts, military courses completed
  • Husband non military work documents
  • Health records (one for each of us, includes dental and vision) 
  • Tax records (7 years)

If I push the files tight, this drawer is only 1/4 full. 

I have some thoughts on what is left. The girls school papers are actually more sentimental at this point. I did cull them about two years ago, so they have been minimized. I would like to keep their writings and drawings over the test scores. I will ask them before I toss any further. These files are not the only memories we have.

During the recent purge of papers I let go of my old work documents. I did scan some for reference, but they were all shredded in the end. I want something similar to happen for my husbands file. Of course, I will need his help. 

Health records may be able to be minimized or scanned as well, but for now I feel okay keeping these in their current form. Luckily, we are rarely ill, so the amount of records we keep is limited for each of us. 

Furniture receipts might also be worth scanning. They are for items we own and could use to prove ownership in the event of loss. They were helpful for claiming damage to some furniture during our last move. The manuals we have left amount to about ten that I could not find online. The odds of needing to reference them is slim. 

On to the lower drawer of the file cabinet. Here is what it contains:
  • Military records
  • Military health records
  • Military pay stubs
  • House ownership documents for three homes

These papers take up 1/4 of this file cabinet, maybe slightly less. 

The military files are probably as slim as they are going to get, unless my husband double checks for more duplicates or gets rid of more things that are not entirely needed. He has been accumulating these papers since 1991, so it is expected there would be quite a bit. 

The mortgage files. (We currently rent, and do not own a home.) When I just think about it, I'm ready to let go of the ones from our first home which we sold in 2006. However, when I look at the documents I get a little sentimental! Our first home!! However, if I keep any it should be far less than I have now. The other two are more recent sales and since we deducted mortgage interest on at least one of them, I feel the need to keep as a sort of supporting document. Honestly, with these documents I am erring on the side of caution and keeping what seems right. But boy, legal sized documents are a pain to store because of their size.

And yes, you have now seen all of our files. Do we have mementos and keepsakes that are likely paper? Yes. Those are stored elsewhere and will likely need some work to minimize someday when we are up to the task. 

So tell me. What documents do you keep? Do you keep things I have not listed? I'm especially curious, if you tend toward minimalism, what documents you have. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Minimalism: Papers In Our Desk Drawer

The progress to minimizing our paper files has been very satisfying.  I'm surprised in some ways how little we have left! I'm going to document that here for my own reference and also to share with you who may be curious.

We have one file drawer in our desk. It contains the following:
  • Van receipts and title
  • Truck receipts and title
  • Vet records (six sheets of paper)
  • High school daughter school records (grades 10-12)
  • Lease agreement
  • Utilities 
  • To File (which has a few random don't know where to put items)
  • College (one packet to fill out)

Guess what? I could get rid of more. 

The lease agreement is in digital form. The blank college form will likely be filled out online and submitted so don't need the blank version. Vet records could be scanned, no need for originals. 

The utilities folder has one bill from each current utility for account reference and phone number information only. I could scan this or write down elsewhere. It also contains old utility information from our previous home. Those utilities were co-ops, so we are entitled to future return of capital. These documents could also be scanned. 

I also think maintenance records for our vehicles could be summarized in an Excel document. We don't need the original receipt to prove anything, only for reference of when and at what mileage did we have work done. 

My daughter's file for school is not very big. It has some school information for reference, standardized test scores and report cards. Once she graduates in June, several pieces can be recycled and the rest retained for memories. 

Yes, I also store envelopes and mailing labels here too. 

I'm really starting to see that I could get our files down to just this one drawer, however, there ARE more files. I will show you our two drawer filing cabinet tomorrow! 

Monday, March 5, 2018

2018 Decluttering: My Husband Helps With Paper

I started working on our paper files again about two weeks ago. At that time, my husband found me going through files and I was asking questions of him. I didn't expect him to get involved at that time, but he was definitely not in the mood for paper decluttering!

This weekend he was ready. With no prompting from me! I told him what I was looking to accomplish primarily with his work records (military members have to save so much!!) The task was to look through three files and determine what needed to be saved and then to compare those saved items with the main folder we keep. My guess was that we had duplicates.

In the end he actually went through six large files! 

Here's some of the paper that no longer resides in our file cabinet. I know it is hard to tell from the picture the amount of paper that is. 

Once we added even more the paper pile looked like this before I began shredding. Over an inch worth of paper, maybe more.

I used a postcard we were tossing to make notes of how much paper I was shredding and recycling.

Finally tally for the weekend was 161 pieces of paper!!

And it's all shredded and ready to recycle. 

Current 2018 decluttering total is 1028! 
I'm more than half way to the goal!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

2018 Decluttering: End of February Tally

February was phenomenal month for decluttering! I may not have been great about sharing all my progress for the month throughout, but it did happen. I ended January with 263 items decluttered. By mid February, I had progressed to 270 items decluttered. Yes, just 7 items in 14 days. There will be times where the decluttering comes to a near standstill. This is okay. And if I ended February with that number I would be okay knowing that progress is the goal on this decluttering journey.

At that point, I did challenge myself to do some deeper looking. As a numbers person, I decided to reach for 300 items and check off more boxes on my decluttering sheet. And I did it! I found another 38 items for a total of 308 items.

Next, I moved on to my old tax files and found 88 pieces of paper.

I know many might not count each piece of paper as one item, but I am. Remember, there are no rules how we count things. I figure the effort to contemplate, even read, each piece of paper is significant enough to warrant counting each as one. Now, I don't count each month's current receipts as one each, since it takes mere moments to decide that grocery and gas receipts are not worth saving and should be tossed. But again, those are my rules for myself.

If you are keeping track that brought my grand total for the year to 396. I found a few things such as three baking pans, and a picture frame to add to my decluttering count this month as well. Now at 400!!

And let's talk about paper some more. I found so much more that I could let go of. The bulk of the paper I continued to discard in February was primarily investment statements (dating back to 1993). Some of these could be shredded immediately, others I did end up scanning for future reference, and that did take time. But the progress is very visible in my filing cabinet, which I'll have to share later.

But you are here for my final February tally, right?! Drum roll please.....


That number is nearly 40% of my goal. Again, my goal is to release 2018 items from our home this year. I am definitely pleased with the number. However, I'm even more excited with the significant progress on our paper. 

And yes, I did get my task of dropping the items I found at Goodwill yesterday. (The eyeglasses were dropped in the Lion's Club collection bin in the Walmart Optical Center). The stuff is really gone! 

Now, I wonder what progress I will make in March?

Monday, February 26, 2018

Monthly Task Tracker

In addition to using a tally list for my decluttering in 2018, I printed off a Monthly Task Tracker sheet. I'm pretty good at getting many cleaning tasks done on a somewhat regular basis, but I thought I'd add a few extra tasks to the list as reminders to get those accomplished each month.

My tasks consist of cleaning the fridge and sheets. I do the sheets on the two paydays of the month, but the fridge is not as easy to remember.

I'm also trying to get myself back on track to meal plan monthly (hasn't happened yet this year). So I have that to keep working towards.

Since I'm decluttering regularly, I figured I need to make charity drop off a regular monthly task to make sure all those items leave the house for good.

I added decluttering of photos (primarily my phone), computer files, paper files and receipts to keep on top of these things that seem to accumulate over time. I'm pretty good at getting the receipts out twice per month when I'm paying bills, so that one is easy. I want the other ones to become a similar habit where I at least cull through my paper files and see if anything can be let go. And phone photos...I don't need to keep all the ones I take for the purposes of this deleting those monthly is very helpful.

And finally, I realized I needed a monthly reminder to clip our kitty's nails. It's so easy to forget when you last did it and she can't tell me if they are bothering her, so I'm making a reminder. We had her for 13 years, so it's kind of sad I'm just now making a better point of doing this more regularly.

Oh, and did you notice I still need to do a few of my items for February? I'll likely pop up here after my writing to get that fridge wiped out. It does help to do that one when the fridge is not as full. I guess I'll come back in a couple days and show you my completed chart! At least I hope I get to check off all the items.

I found the printable here at One Mama's Daily Drama.