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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Handle Your Mail Only Once

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Handle Your Mail Only Once

Are you one of those people who leaves a stack of mail on your dining room table until it falls over and gets dumped? Or do you automatically throw it all in the trash without even looking at it? I've got a good "in between" solution that follows the mantra "handle your mail only once".

I remember having a college roommate, who would pick up her mail, come in the dorm room, sit on her bed, and sort through her stack of mail. She would repeat that exercise every few hours, the next day and even later in the week...maybe open one or two here and there...you get the picture...not a very efficient way of dealing with your mail!

Follow these steps, and you'll never waste your time again. The first thing you are going to do is follow the instructions in my Opt Out article.

Then:

  • Pick a comfortable chair, preferably with a trashcan and shredder nearby.
  • Go get your mail
  • Sit down in your chair and automatically sort out all the junkmail paper flyers and throw those in the trash (or put them in a recycle bin; you can have a small one in the house next to the paper trashcan). Let's say there is a sale flyer you want to refer back to. Fold it up and put it in your little notebook that lives in your purse.
  • Look at each envelope...you know, the ones with the windows. If it is a bill, take out the actual bill, and throw away or recycle all the inserts and envelope (only throw the envelope out if you plan not to use it, like with online billpay). You are going to neatly stack these bills in a pile. If it is a statement or other important document, stack those also in your bill pile.
  • Take all the unsolicited envelopes, and take out all the paper that mentions your name and address or any other identifying information. These will get shredded. You'd be amazed what thieves can do with this paperwork. Recycle or throw away those envelopes.
  • You should be left with magazines and possibly a catalog or two. I like to leave magazines on our coffee table, where they will live for up to one month and then get recycled at our local library. I try to limit our household magazine subscriptions to only two (and they were free to begin with). If I want to really read a magazine, I'll just stop by the library. I keep a stack of catalogs in my night table drawer. I pull out pages of decorating ideas and also bookmark gift ideas for future reference. Darn it, I just like to look at catalogs. I make sure I toss out the old issues while I'm in there. If it is a catalog I no longer want, I call the # on the catalog right then and there. They are typically very good about complying.
  • Take your stack of bills and paperwork and put them in your inbox or post them on your bulletin board. I like to file the "no action needed" paperwork right away, just to get it out of sight. For the bills, I sit down that day (when I'm on the computer anyway) and schedule them through online billpay, to pay a week before they are due. Be sure to write the date to be paid, how you paid and also the confirmation # from your online account onto the statement. Be sure to post that it was paid on your billpaying checklist and file the bill in your filing cabinet following this method.
  • Don't forget the bank statements you are going to have to reconcile. You'd be surprised how banks can make mistakes! I keep mine in a neat stack next to the computer and every week or so, I will log onto Microsoft Money and reconcile them...then file them away.
Follow these steps...and you'll never waste another minute with your mail! What do you do to reduce your mail and time spent going through it?

Photo from grsites.com

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