How a File Cabinet is Saving My Sanity


I know I have posted before about my bill shoe box.  When I became overwhelmed with the medical bills coming in, I shoved them all in a shoebox.  I didn’t even open them.  NOT ONE.  I’ve had A LOT of financial trauma in my life, and because of it, I like to occasionally pretend like it doesn’t exist, and I don’t have to deal with it.  Unfortunately, when that happens, you do stupid stuff, like discover 1 year later that you have a bill in collections for $2.62.  Hey!  I said it was stupid.

At Christmas time in 2012, as the family was doing the annual “is there anything you would like for Christmas?” telephone rounds, I knew exactly what I wanted.  I wanted those piles of papers to disappear.  I wanted to be able to FIND those pieces of paper, because I also added an empty Wal-Mart bag to my amazing bill storage methods.  I asked for a file cabinet and for a fire safe box.

This year, I decided to make it official and get my butt in gear regarding the debt.  I couldn’t take it anymore, and it was time to get a handle on it.  I was certainly prompted by my husband’s job loss, and since he was at home, I sent him a text asking him to finally get it set up for me.  Now, with it right by my desk, I have access to it any time I need anything.

I set it up in what I consider an unconventional order.  I actually have my files in debt snowball order.  Setting up my cabinet this way allows me to easily look in and know which bill gets any “extra” money from our budget or what bill has gained the new snowball amount.  The bill in the front, gets the biggest payment because it’s the smallest debt.

The one bill that has been paid off so far is now in an individual folder with the information of the debtor, and inside a hanging folder labeled “Paid Off”.  The back of the top drawer also has homeowners insurance information, car insurance, records for vaccinations on the dogs, and “other”.  I haven’t had to use the second drawer yet.

This system is making it incredibly easy for me to file the mail as it comes in.

How a File Cabinet is Saving My Sanity

I grab all of the bills and carry them to my desk.

I then open them all up and save their matching envelopes.

Each bill goes into the front of its folder inside its hanging file.

On the budgeted payday, I start at the front and work my way through each bill since I know exactly how much I am sending them.

As I pay a bill, I write it down on a tracking sheet inside the individual folder AND in my debt binder with the date, how much was paid, the check number and the day I mail the check.

If I do not have a new bill and envelope, I write out all of those by hand.

My paper piles have certainly dwindled except for the tiny one on my desk as new bills come in.  I can find anything the exact minute I need it, and it all makes bill paying a lot less stressful!

Do you use a file cabinet?  If so, what’s your method?


Author: Jill Stewart

I am a 37 -year-old woman from Arkansas who is happily married to a Scottish immigrant aka “the hubby” “the hubs” or if I am calling him directly “YO YOU!” We’ve been married for 3 years and it’s been a crazy ride, and unfortunately our finances have been beat to death in the last few years. We have two dogs and a cat, no kids. The Blog- What’ll you find: Financial Information as we try to become debt free My attempts at working and trying to maintain a home to the standards I like My adventures in learning how to sew Arts and craft projects Funny tidbits from my life including living with a Scottish person, the dogs, and other oddball things that happen to me. What you won’t find: Much on children. I don’t have kids and I can’t have kids. Recipes- I don’t mind cooking, but unless it’s something really special, don’t come here looking for the weekly recipe! You won’t find it- unless you ask my husband. If you’re interested in what you see, please follow me on Facebook or sign up for emails! Most of all, leave a comment or ask a question! I am always happy to hear from you!

12 thoughts on “How a File Cabinet is Saving My Sanity

  1. Your system sounds good! You are more organized then you led me to believe! 😉 I use a little plastic filing box for all my important paperwork. It is organized but not as much as I’d like. Then we keep all of our really important paperwork like birth/marriage certificates, passports and life insurance policies in our gun safe. I like your system because it sounds like it helps out with the clutter that comes along with checking your mailbox.

    • Oh, maybe I led you to believe it’s been in place for some time…LOL. I’ve only been doing it for about 6 weeks. It took me over 3 hours to sort it all and get it in there. It DOES make bill paying incredibly easy though!

      Getting rid of the clutter the minute it comes in the door was my goal! I get sick of having to go through piles of mail and things getting lost etc.

  2. Its whatever works. Your organizational system is far better than mine. I’ve been stuffing all my receipts into a priority mail box o.O At least they are all together, and I know where the box is located.

  3. Your system sounds really good! I don’t use a filing cabinet, I tend to use a “bills all over the counter” approach, haha. (It doesn’t work too well!)

    I’ve been looking into different bill organization methods, and I really like yours. I’m torn between this and the “envelope system”, but either way it would be better than what I do now.

    • Oh, I use the envelope system too for daily transactions, but we have something like 19 medical bills and I couldn’t keep them all straight! Some of them are from the same places, but have different account numbers and such, it was a nightmare!

      Give it a shot! I’m betting even a small file box would make a big difference!

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    I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

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