Tips, Tricks and Trivia

How to Deal with Mail.  Mail comes in three categories - Bills, personal, junk.  When you pick up your mail, take 2 or 3 minutes to sort it.  That moment, not days later.  Open the Recognized mail first - bills and personal.  Glance at the credit statements to see that you recognize the charges, throw away the envelope it came in and put all bills in one place to pay when due.  Same for utility, phone, cable/internet charges and the like.  Flyers, ads, invitations to give you credit or to open new accounts, throw them away unless you have seriously been thinking of moving balances from one account to another.  Coupons, toss them, unless you need them immediately.  Don't allow yourself to get sucked into...I might.  It's junk!  It will come again soon enough.  Going through your mail shouldn't take but 2-3 minutes.  If you're not looking at your mail when you pick it up, you're building a mound of clutter and possibly paying bills late.  Pick a place where all bills go for timely payment.  Junk never goes with important mail.  

Did you know you can use a piece of raw spaghetti as a match light?  It's great for lighting candles!  Just light the end of a piece of spaghetti and light the wick.  Wha La!

Did you know that one Banker box can hold 3,000 decisions to be made?  No wonder people struggle with paper!

Did you know … with simple organizing you can gain an extra hour each day?  Since most people spend up to an hour a day looking for what is needed, you could actually give yourself several extra weeks each year by being organized. 


Not enough closet space for all your clothes?  Try this:  Hang each item of clothing with the hanger facing backwards.  Each time you wear something from your closet, turn the hanger in the right direction.  After six months to a year, remove all the clothing that is still on backward facing hanger.  Hmmm, will you really wear that shirt again? 


How’s that filing cabinet?  For most, it’s a task forgotten and years of accumulated paperwork.  Try this:  Make a file for each creditor with the current year on the label; example “Capital One – 2019”.  When 2020 is here, time for a new folder.  Move 2019 folders to a different drawer, keeping the current year folders together and away from the old. 


How many years do I need to keep paperwork and why?


In general, the purpose of keeping papers is to protect yourself from creditors coming up out of the blue stating you owe them money, proof of payment, IRS audits, and proof of prior insurance. 


Filed Tax Returns:  7 years (in some situations, longer).  The IRS does not audit after 7 years.  If you have been audited, are a corporation or LLC, it is best to keep your filed returns for at least 10 years.  (Check with your accountant.)


Credit Card statements:  3 years, although I would keep them for 5 years if you have a history of late pays, non-payment, skipped payments, or identity theft.  Statute of limitations for collection is 5 years.

Utility bills:  1 year.  Traditionally, utility companies do not report to credit agencies, they simply cut off your service.  One year is plenty to show payments made.

Vital records:  Forever, including divorce decree/final judgment.

Insurance policies:  3-5 years after expiration.  Some insurance companies want to see proof of prior insurance up to 5 years.

Loans:  3 years after Paid in Full.