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December 6, 2012

Corral that holiday clutter before it consumes the house

(Continued)

Bills

Open them. Ignoring them will not make them disappear. Discard everything except the statement and the return envelope (if you plan to mail your payment). Place all the bills in one place, pay them every two weeks, and file at the end of the month. Because we can pay bills from almost anywhere now, it is easy for statements to end up in a purse, on a bedside table or in the car. Try to pay and save them in one location. And while you're at it, create new file folders for 2013.

Solicitations from charities

As 2012 draws to a close, charitable organizations are making their final push for donations, and all of those solicitations are arriving in your mailbox. If you're stalling because you don't have a record of your giving throughout the year, take some time to find records of your previous donations. Look through bank statements, your email inbox and your credit card statements. Log them all into one document. This will make your final giving decisions easier. And even though you still have almost four more weeks to donate for this tax year, it is far better to have this wrapped up before the celebrations begin.

Invitations

During the holiday season, paper invitations to special events and parties will arrive in your mailbox. You have probably received a few already. RSVP to them immediately. It takes only a minute, the host will be thrilled for the prompt response, and you won't have to add the task to your growing to-do list. Don't forget to put the details on your calendar.

Packages

Gifts from family and friends will also start appearing in the next week or two, as well as some of those cyber purchases. Resist the urge to just stack them in the corner. The contents of the boxes can probably be condensed significantly. If you need the items to remain secret, wrap them or consolidate them in a sealed container that you can store temporarily. As you unpack the boxes, keep the receipts and instructions for making returns so you are all set in case you need to send something back. Place all the paperwork in a large manila envelope and keep a running list of whom each gift is from. This will help with thank-you cards in January.

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