I look forward to de-cluttering as much as I would look forward to delousing – which is not at all.   But having started the ball rolling last year by cleaning out my unmanageable file cabinet in the garage, I decided that as part of my 2015 resolution, I should pick another cleanup project so that I could pat myself on the back and feel smug.  Ha! fat chance, that I could find a reasonable task easily!  Here were some ideas that I explored:  Take on the attic? Noooo, maybe next year.  Kids toys? No I’d rather go to the dentist.  Clean out my husband’s clothes and get him to part with some of his tattered favorites… couldn’t stop laughing at this one ☺.  It seemed that not only would I not clean anything I couldn’t even come up with a task to attempt.

Trying not to give up hope, I opened a bottle of red wine and after sipping a glass with some seriously dark chocolate as an additional treat, I spent time exploring my options.  Finally, I decided to continue with last year’s ‘theme’ and add a few manageable bells and whistles to what I had worked on last year.  The task I decided to attempt, would be to go through all the paper work that had been added to the filing cabinet this year, clean out what I could and then find ways to reduce the amount of paper that I collected in the coming year. 

When that day came…

I cleared a large area in our family room and brought in the folders that needed to be reviewed. Unlike  last year, they were actually manageable.  Then I gathered all the other things that I thought I would need.  This included, the shredder, my laptop and my secret weapon … my son (I bribed him with promises of candy and money in return he would scan documents and shred and recycle as needed). 

Like last year, I went folder by folder and separated the documents.  I also thought about whether I needed paper copies of statements for an account as I went through its folder.  In a few cases, the answer was a resounding yes while in most cases I realized I did not even look at the statements, I just wanted to be sure that I could get them if I needed them.  So while my son scanned and shredded documents as necessary, I logged in to my Finovera account (Finovera is a Personal Financial management tool) and added my bills and financial accounts for automatic download of statements.  Finovera supports most popular national providers and many regional providers.  The advantage here is that now my statements will get downloaded automatically and will be in the same place as where I am storing my other important documents.  Along with many other nifty features, I’ll get automatic reminders when a new statement is available or a bill is due. 

I then logged in to each of the sites that I had added to my Finovera account and set them up for e-bill deliver only.  A big win for the trees and great brownie points with my kids who are always nagging me to be ‘green’ so there is a world left for them to enjoy.

Finally, I logged in to my bank and checked which bills were setup for auto-pay and found that we were still paying some of the utilities manually.  I changed them and other bills like the mortgage, to auto-pay.  Good bye to late fees!  I did choose to not make some of my bills like my credit cards, auto-pay as I’d like to see the bill amount and then pay it.  Here Finovera is useful as it sends me a reminder when a new statement is available.  I then log in and can review the statement and use their ‘one-click’ access to log in to my credit card or bank site and pay the bill. 

Compared to last year’s project,  this took a lot less time – especially with my son helping.  By late Saturday afternoon, we were done!  As promised, I took my son to the local grocery store and let him spend a few bucks for a sugar fix.  While he was busy exploring the candy isle, I bought a container of mixed olives, a bottle of wine, some crusty bread, cheese and a variety of salads.  On the way out of the grocery store we rented a family movie.   Finally we headed home to put our feet up and enjoy a good meal and movie!

It was such an amazing feeling to know I’d managed to make my kids happy by using less paper, my husband happy as he’d have less bills to look at and me happy as I’d have less to clean next January.  A real home run!

This article was originally published as a guest blog post at Unclutter.

Image Source: Lifehacker