Confession Time

It’s time for me to be honest.

Do I seem like I have my act together? Do I seem like the most organized and fiscally savvy gal you have ever encountered? Oh do go on.

Here is reality: I am 28 years old. Until three months ago I kept all of my important papers in a bin. This bin:

So embarrassing

I don’t have a desk, so I just threw everything important into this bin. Checks, thank you notecards, my passport, medical documents, my lease, broken pencils, my social security card, an old alarm clock, a gazillion paperclips, important mail, pay stubs, used up highlighters, tax information, wrapping paper. It was all in there.

To give myself a little credit: I never lost an important document, so at least I was consistent about tossing crap in there.

However. As I’m sure you understand, the situation is not sustainable. Firstly (if you recall), I move a lot. Lugging this bin of unsorted paperwork around with me is not a good use of my energy.

Secondly, the bin goes under my bed. It is annoying to go searching under the bed every time a piece of mail comes in.

Third, I had multiple panic-filled moments when I had to spend time rummaging through there praying I had actually followed my system. Lots of stress and anxiety and self-scolding for not being a more organized person.

I needed at least an intermediate step…so I did this:

Only slightly better….

What you are looking at is a beautiful plate with an octopus on it (see the tentacles peeping out of the bottom left?) that my aunt gave me. It became my mail receptacle. And by mail receptacle I mean place to put towers of mail until they get too tall and they fall over and I have to shove them in the bin under the bed.

You can see why this system is not great. I can’t even see my pretty plate.

Finally, at the age of 28 and 2 months old, I finally decided to keep my paperwork like a grownup.

I invested in an ugly file folder crate and some hideous army green hanging folders. Now when my mail stack gets too high, I file the important paperwork. I don’t even keep those little empty mailback envelopes they give you! I get rid of them right away! The files and box weren’t cheap, they don’t look nice, and it is definitely not my favorite part of being an adult.

However…. after being an adult for over a decade now, having this file box does make me FEEL more like an adult. And I no longer freak out about where my social security card is (what is that thing for, anyway?)

The ugly bin. I am such a responsible adult.

So you see- I am not a naturally organized person. I don’t have a label maker. (I don’t want a label maker because then I would feel guilty for not putting things away in the places I had chosen for them) The reason I have organized my finances the way I have (with automatic bill pay and instant budget making) is because if I didn’t have it automated, my bills and important paperwork would end up in the under-the-bed-lack-of-filing-system and I would have no clue about my money at all.

You will also notice that I didn’t come up with this new organization system overnight. I had a few failed experiments including:

  • A pink binder that did not have enough space in it and I also couldn’t find the hole punch
  • Multiple shoe boxes that I moved around with me
  • A lovely green storage container that got crushed during a move 😦

The point is- sometimes you are going to try to set up a system, and it won’t work. You might need to set up a system one piece at a time (the mail plate was a genius step for me to avoid making my roommates crazy with my old bills stacked on the hall table…) But if you keep trying different systems (and in my case, if I had just bought some stupid file folders) then one day you will find a system that works for you.


Bills Schmills

I am sorry to tell you the terrible truth of adulthood: Remember all of those times that your parents griped about how you were an unappreciative teenager because they worked hard to put a roof over your head and you thought, “Well, duh, that is your job, you are a parent.”

Your parents were right. It is hard just to keep a roof over your head.

As an adult you get to do all sorts of fun things like drink beer and stay up late whenever you want and watch tv show marathons on Netflix for 8 hours straight and eat ice cream for breakfast. But you also have to pay bills. Which not only is a major bummer of adulthood but also makes mail as an adult way less fun.

Here are some bad things about bills:

-You have already used the water, cable, gas, phone…so it’s lame that you have to pay for it after. It’s not like you’re getting something new and exciting that you are paying for. Bummer.

-You need a stinkin’ stamp to send your check in. And you need enough checks (Not a problem, if you have Charles Schwab!) And you have to remember to bring it to the mailbox. Ugh.

-They don’t all come at the same time each month and some come online and it’s kind of hard to keep all those things organized, don’t they know you have a life?!?

-If you are late or you move a lot (me) and sometimes your mail doesn’t show up in a timely manner, you have to pay late fees and it impacts your credit. So lame.

Here are some good things about bills:

…but even though we hate bills (unanimously, survey says), you still have to pay them. So the goal is to make paying them as painless as possible. Actually, the goal is to forget about them altogether so that you can focus your adult energy on eating ice cream for breakfast. But how can you forget about them altogether without wrecking your credit and/or having your power cut off (which would be horrible because then you couldn’t read my blog)?

AUTOMATIC BILL PAY. It is a miracle. Look online at your bank’s website. It takes 20 minutes to set up, you will never, ever be late on a bill again, and you don’t have to think about your bills. At all.

Here are some tips for making the most of this modern day miracle:

-Set up your bills to be due right when your paycheck comes in. That way, you won’t ever have to worry about overdrafting your checking account, and also you know that whatever ca$h money is left in there is yours for the using (within your budget, of course).

-If, for some reason, you don’t want to pay a whole bill at once (maybe your credit card balance is too high?) you can always set up your bank to automatically make the minimum payment and you will NEVER pay late fees ever! Yeah!

-If you have some bills that are due to, say, a roommate or your mom (thanks for the family plan phone discount, Mom!), you can set up your bank to automatically mail a check to an individual at a designated time, too. Saves stamps, saves checks, saves time, saves nagging, saves feeling guilty about forgetting and then worrying about tallying up past due amounts. Pretty awesome. AND it improves adulthood mail for the recipient, because getting a check in the mail is always nicer than getting a bill in the mail.

Now that you have cleared out that monthly awful nagging guilty feeling in your brain, go make yourself a margarita and toast yourself for being a super capable adult.

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