Monday, September 26, 2011

I only pay the pretty bills.

This post has a little something for everyone. There's a little crafting, a little organizing and a lot of OCD.

I am probably an embarrassment to most people with OCD because I am terribly inconsistent. For instance if you stay at my house, which you are welcome to do even if I don't know you very well which would make most OCDers break out in hives, you best not make a huge mistake such as putting a salad fork in the drawer slot that is clearly supposed to be for dinner forks only. For that I will toss you out on your ear.

However, I will be glad to wash some of your clothes with ours and all you have to do is pitch your dirty laundry in the general direction of the laundry room. There are bins in there for sorting dirty laundry but my family is incapable of telling the difference between lights and darks so I've learned to flex in that regard and I re-sort everything before washing. This means that there are often piles of dirty laundry on the floor waiting for their turn in the wash and I'm good with that. 

One thing I'm not good with is paying bills. I set up everything I can to be either automatically drafted out of our account or paid online because I passionately hate to have to sit down and pay them manually. However, I have discovered that I don't mind it as much if the process is pretty. Well, I guess the process can't really be pretty but the supplies can!

My overall mood and attitude are extremely sensitive to my environment, so much so that I can't function in an environment where I'm not comfortable.  This is why I do so much fru-fruing around my house. I have a very strong nesting urge and since I spend most of my time here every day I must make it a place that looks appealing to me and feels comfortable. Otherwise I won't get out of bed.

I'm going to show you my little bill-paying station or my "kitchen command center" as I've seen it referred to on some blogs. I have a lovely large office desk in my front living room but I don't use that area to pay bills because it's not an area that I'm in every day. That may sound strange but it's another little Shannon quirk. I have to have my bills and household paperwork in front of me pretty much every day or I will completely forget about them and then when I remember I will put off dealing with them because it's unpleasant and it's added effort to walk those 8 steps into the other room. I've told you before...I'm lazy. Now you know the extent of it.

Enough of that embarrassing peek into my psyche. Now I'll show you how to take a basically simple idea and turn it into something complicated and time consuming. I'm just gifted that way. Let's start with the folders I use for my paid bills.

I had a bunch of these tabbed hanging file folders left over from when I did my big paperwork overhaul a few months ago. I could have saved a huge amount of time and effort by buying the type of folders I needed for this project and the expense wouldn't have caused a huge hardship on the Green family budget. BUT...I'm all about making do with what I already have on hand.

Since these were the high quality kind and not the cheap ones, I couldn't slide the metal hangie thing out like you can on some of them. I knew I wasn't going to be hanging these and the little hangers were in my way so I just snipped them off with some wire cutters.

Then I drew a line on the front of the folder just above the tab that's on the back of the folder.        

Since the metal hanger thing is still firmly attached to the folder, I made a little cut in it with my wire cutters so that I could cut across the line I just drew.

I cut off the top section of the folder front going to the left only as far as the third score mark. You can see that better in some of the pictures below. This was important since my goal was to make each folder gusseted or box-bottomed.

Here is a close-up of how far over to cut. The file folders are scored this way on the front and back and you want to crease both the front and back cover at the center score mark. You'll want to glue the folder together along the crease and the two score marks next to it. The pictures explain what I mean better than my words can.

After you glue together the two score marks nearest the crease, then fold along the the next mark which is the one in the middle of both the front and back covers. You then want to crease along the next score mark in the opposite direction. I know. That makes no sense. Just look at the next picture.

Just ignore everything I said and crease the front and back of your hanging file folder so that it looks like this. 

You should know that each of the score marks on your hanging file folder is 1/4". We glued the two nearest the crease together, giving us a 1/2" tab that can be hole punched if you want to keep your folders in a binder. That left us another 1/2" to work with. We creased again at the next score mark on the front and back side, giving us a 1/4" crease on each side which makes a 1/2" space for our gusset.

Of course you can cover your folder with pretty scrapbook papers if you want to. This is optional but if you really want to make this as tedious as and complicated as possible, then I recommend you don't skip this important time consuming step.

Now you want to score a line on your folder's tab thing at the edge of the front cover and 1/2" over. You can see what I mean in the next picture.

See what I mean?

Now you want to cut a piece of scrapbook paper or cardstock to use for your gusset. I cut mine 2" wide and the same length as the bottom of the folder where your gusset will go...which just happens to be 8-1/2". I know, you're thinking that if the opening is only 8-1/2" wide then when you try to slide a sheet of paper in there it's going to be too narrow. Yes, that's what all the laws of physics would indicate but just trust me that for some reason it will work.

Now you want to score your gusset in the very center and 1/4" on either side of the center line.

Fold it like this. I'm not even going to mention mountain and valley folds in relation to the pattern of your paper. You'll figure it out, just make it look like this.

Now glue your gusset to the inside of the back cover. Then glue it to the inside of the front cover, folding your tab over and gluing its small scored section to the inside of the front cover as well.

Now you have a gusseted folder that will expand enough to hold a year's worth of paid electric bills or phone bills or whatever bills you have.

This is the right side where you fold the tab up and glue it under the front of the folder.

This is the left side. See how perfectly your 1/2" gusset fits in your 1/2" space?

See? Your new folder will even hold a note pad.

This is the little desk in my kitchen where I use my computer, sort mail, clip coupons, pay bills, etc. I've had that wicker organizer thing forever and it works well for this but there's actually another spot in the kitchen where I want to put it. I just have to find a table for that spot first. This works for now.

A while back I found some plain white magazine boxes at a thrift store and covered them with scrapbook paper. I put them in the wicker thing on my kitchen desk then put my new paid bill folders in each one.

I stuck little post-it tabs on them for labels and called it done.

Well, almost done. I made little boxes to hold my bill paying supplies such as envelopes, address labels, stamps, etc. These were Macaroni & Cheese boxes, I think.

This is the "to be paid" box which was Suddenly Salad in a previous life. When the mail comes in I pull out the bills then sit down and write the check for them right then. Little things can usually be paid right away but bigger things have to be mailed on a certain date so that it doesn't screw up our budget. I usually know the date but if I don't I write it where the stamp would go then put it in this box until it's time to mail it.

Having our bills on the counter and in my face every day helps me to keep better track of them. And not just bills either. I have some folders in here for bank statements, insurance EOBs, and other mail that we get regularly that will stack up if I don't file it away immediately. Filing is easy to do when the file is within arms reach of where I sit for at least a couple of hours every day.

In case you were wondering, I hide phone books in here.

I was going to show you my junk drawer but I'll have to save that for another post since this one is so long. I will say that I have more than one junk drawer and I think everyone should have more than one.  There's the regular junk drawer then the kitchen junk drawer. They don't have room specific junk in them, it's just that the kitchen accumulates more junk than any other area of the house which would overflow a single junk drawer. It's good to have options.

I should also discuss the importance of scissors and scotch tape. I have one of each in almost every room in my house. It's they key to household happiness and harmony.

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