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The Frugal Catholic 1-31 File

We’ve all seen that pile in our homes. It’s the stack of paperwork composed of bills, statements, receipts for the tax file, birthday cards to send, forms that need a reply, letters to write, articles to read, guarantee registrations,  and church and sports schedules. It’s a nagging mass that most of us would rather set fire to than deal with. Nevertheless, a way exists to shave down that heap and keep it flowing. Conquer your paper clutter this New Year of 2015 by employing The Frugal Catholic 1-31 File and never lose track of another dated-response item again. Here’s how.

But WAIT! Before we look at the how let's think about WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?

We are creating a simple daily organizational system because our paper trail needs a shorter tail. Maybe a 1-31 file would clean up our act?

But ONE MOMENT, PLEASE! Does this plan require much effort? I don't believe in exerting myself. Well, neither does the author. This is an easy-to-use 1-31 hanging file system where you put everything that needs to be addressed that month behind its proper date--1-31.

Take a look at the picture below. You will need the following:

  1. a hanging file box (estimated cost $10)

  2. a set of 31 hanging folders (estimated cost $ 9 )

  3. another set of plain manila folders (estimated cost $ 11 )

  4. stuff to put into the folders, but then I know you already have that

First, get a file box for hanging the file folders. I use my Grandfather's 100-year-old file cabinet that has been passed down. Not fancy, but the drawers work. Next, get some hanging file folders, the ones with the little hook on the sides, and finally a box of manila folders.

As the picture below shows, mark the hanging file folders 1-31. Then label 12 manila folders with January through December. Put the 1-31 in front of the months of the year.

And somewhere in there, insert a manila file folder labeled PENDING, which is where you put paperwork that is undecided.

Next, go through that paper stack and address each piece by either putting it into 1-31 for that month or into the labeled month when you'll address it.

Finally, mark anything down on your monthly calendar--either paper or electronic--such as when to mail those birthday cards you have put behind the 1-31. And when any information arrives for the upcoming months, slide it into the appropriate month. As you finish the 1-31 for the present month, open the manila folder for next month and put the paperwork where it needs to go, behind 1-31. Of course, I know that you've figured this one out already, but don't forget to check your 1-31 folders daily to see what needs to be accomplished that day.

Even though you might incur an initial expense of around $30, the materials will last a lifetime. I have been using the same 1-31 files now for 30 years, which means I have spent about $1 a year to avoid a paper pile-up.  That is a small expense to keep paperwork flowing.

I have seen this system create a natural rhythm to my day.   If I can’t do everything in my 1-31 file for that day, I shove it to a later date; and eventually, by the end of the month, nearly everything is tackled. The Frugal Catholic 1-31 File has utilized Sacred Scripture in Ephesians 5:15-16. “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time.”

Give this system a try and watch 2015 be your best year ever!

The Frugal Catholic  1-31File

The Frugal Catholic 1-31File


Martha Wild King, M. Ed., Author

The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less to give and save more.

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