Papers, junk mail, receipts. As soon as you check the mail, or after you’ve gone shopping and are back home – where do you put the mail you don’t need, and the receipts you don’t need to look at? Do you have a stash somewhere that piles up to be looked at “later”? Every client that I’ve had, has had stashes of unnecessary papers stuffed in drawers, in boxes or bags around the house, most of which can be tossed once they take a second look at them.
A solution to this is to have a recycling bin easily accessible near your front entryway. The only receipts I keep are for products that I may need to return, items that have warranties, and things that are business expenses and can be claimed on my tax return.
Items that I may have to return I keep on my front hall table only long enough to establish that I do indeed want this item – I keep it annoyingly in my sight so that it is a constant reminder that I have purchased this item and that I need to establish whether it is necessary or not.
For items that have warranties I have a folder in my filing cabinet where I keep such receipts, and when I get home I immediately put it in this folder. That way, I know if something breaks under warranty I know exactly where the receipt is. I will go through this folder about once a year to see what receipts are still relevant, and throw out the ones that aren’t.
For the receipts that are for business purchases, I have a small file folder where I keep such receipts. This file folder is labelled (meals, travel expenses, small supplies, large purchases etc) so that I know where to look if I need a specific receipt, and so that I have all my business receipts together come tax-time.
Every other receipt I throw away! This may be shocking for a few of you. I’ll give you a moment to process this horrifying idea… Grocery receipts – gone, household purchases – gone, clothing purchases – gone.
Of course everyone is in a different situation when it comes to receipts, and I would advise you to check with your accountant first before tossing everything like I do, in case it can be used on your tax return.
It is exhilarating tossing receipts! One less thing you have to worry about putting somewhere.
As for junk mail, envelopes for bills or different letters – recycle them immediately! You do not need these and if you toss them as soon as you get in the door you don’t have to worry about them anymore.
You know what else you can toss immediately?
Christmas, birthday, or greeting cards from friends/family – this may sound ruthless, but I do this immediately when I get home (my close friends and family know not to get me cards). I don’t want to have them as a burden; another thing to store for years and then eventually throw away. If there is a particularly beautiful sentiment written in the card, you can cut this out and paste it in a notebook that you have specifically for this purpose. Or if the card itself is very beautiful, you could save the front of it and keep it in a photo album or frame it on the wall! It serves no purpose sitting in a box to never be looked at. I ask my friends/family to not get me cards and they can instead just say ‘happy birthday’ to my face when they give me a gift! Or they can send me an email, Facebook message, or text and it is just as meaningful to me (in fact it’s more meaningful because I know they didn’t waste money on the card and postage, as well as the paper resources to manufacture the card/envelope).
If you have received cards from people that you are going to toss, there is a wonderful resource where you can recycle them. Check out to see if there are any local resources that will do similar programs! It is a wonderful way to be green, and also support local communities.