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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Tackling Paper - Day 2 - My File Drawer

Welcome back!  Are you ready to revisit those little stacks of paper you made?  If you're just joining us, be sure to go check out the first day of tackling paper here.

Today we're going to go through those piles. I want you to be ruthless.  Here is a list of things to keep and everything else needs to be shredded and/or pitched.  Just think about how good you will feel with all of that clutter out of your home.

I refer to this article from Real Simple when trying to decide what to keep.  In this article, there are two types of paper in your filing cabinet,  Can't Lose and Extended Knowledge.
Can't Lose
These are items that you need to keep indefinitely, signed legal contracts. Mortgage papers, birth certificates, passports, etc.
Extended Knowledge
These, are things that you hold onto because you can't keep everything in your head.  Car insurance plan details, insurance contact info, etc.  If you weren't around, what info would someone in your family need?

Ask yourself these questions from the article:

  1. If I get rid of this, will I be in a serious bind, lose my job, get sued, lose an irreplaceable amount of money, or go to jail? If so, retain the document.
  2. Do I want to have this knowledge at my fingertips and will I have a difficult time getting my hands on this information later if I don’t keeps this document? If so, retain the document.
  3. Will keeping this document make it easier for someone else if I am unavailable? If so, retain the document.

In addition to the above, I have always gone by the rule of thumb that you keep tax paperwork for 7 years.  Everything else, utilities, credit card bills, I get electronically, or shred after I pay them because I can access them online if I need to.

I keep a file folder for the current year's tax info and stick W-2's, charitable donation receipts, and any other needed documents for the year in here.  After we file our taxes, we print a copy of our return and bundle it, and all the collected paperwork and file it with past returns.  More on that later.

Now let's break it down...

These are the files I keep in my desk, easy to access:

    - Labels (Avery printables, extra chalkboard labels, etc.)
    - Ideas (things I pull out of magazines, etc.)
    - Party (things I need for party planning, checklists, copies of my Super Bowl Bingo Board ;), etc)
    - Reference (things I need to hang on to to keep track of phone numbers, etc)
    - Current Year's Taxes (this is where I throw in all the stuff that comes in the mail for that year's return)
    - Health Insurance (dental visit invoices, etc)
    - Car (this has 2 folders in it, Insurance and Info)
    - Home (same as car, one for Insurance, one for Info)
    - The next 3 files are our retirement funds.  When a new statement comes, I stick it in the file.   Every once and a while (once a year??), I put them in a binder to clear out the drawer.
    - Baby Stuff (I still have all the hospital paperwork just in case.  I'm sure I will let this go eventually, but it seems like a good idea to keep all that for now)
    - Tax Archives (sometimes we need to access a tax file from the past.  I have all of the previous years (we've only been married 6 years) bundled by year and in the back of my file cabinet.  Eventually, these will go to "Deep Storage" in a fire and water safe box in the basement)

So, a quick B & A of my file drawer...



Ahhh.  Much better.

I don't know why I waited so long to get my system back under control.  Now, if you have other things to store (kiddie artwork, mementos  photos, etc) don't despair.  I won't leave you hanging!  Tomorrow I'll show you how I store some of the other paper that tries to consume us.

Happy purging!


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