Does the title seem slightly inappropriate to you? I meant it as a terrible joke, a play on the word “file” but now I’m not sure it’s gonna translate to anyone not inside my head…
I looove today’s Apartment Therapy January Cure assignment! Day 14: Get Papers & Files in Order
I’m always looking to condense our files, but it’s scary to throw things out. What if that’s the one thing I need to prove that I’m innocent and save myself from being sued or going to jail (I’m serious, these thoughts cross my mind and we don’t have any documents that can do that sort of thing at all…maybe we should get some)
Anyway, the main bullet points from today are:
- Clear out your files
- Organize what you are keeping
- Set up a schedule for dealing with your bills and follow it
I do something like this once every few months, but I’ve never been totally satisfied with our system. I feel like we can get rid of more, but I’m nervous!
So these guidelines from Maxwell made me breathe a sigh of relief, pull out all our files, spread them on our table and go through them without fear (some doubts, but no fear):
Tax Returns – Permanently
Credit Card Statements – 7 years
Mortgage Statements – 7 years
Bank Statements – 7 years
Investment Statements – 7 years (keep initial statement for life of investment)
Deductible Business Receipts – 7 years
Deductible Business Bills – 7 years
Insurance polices – 3 years of renewals
Warranties, User Guides – Life of product
1. Personal or Holiday Cards
2. Utility Bills (unless deductible)
3. Rent Receipts (unless deductible)
4. Nondeductible receipts or bills
Here’s our spread:
Not bad, right?
The system we worked out in July seemed to be working, but I knew that it needed an overhaul because we weren’t keeping up with it.
We have the two white boxes for supplies like paper, folders, and files and I like that they’re easy to find and access, but it’s not something we need so often so that might change. The three blue boxes are for personal mementos, one each. Now we need another one for Mia! We also have a filing cabinet that the printer sits on in the hallway and a file box that sits out on the desk with the files we need most often.
Clear out your files
I spread out all of the files on our dining room table, and marked them with a post-it for easy reference when going through them.
Organize what you are keeping
I got the files that go into the file box down to seven categories that I want to access easily: rent, health insurance, Tuvia, Gilit, Aiden, home decor, and photos.
The “Tuvia” folder has 3 sub-folders: work, finances, health, “Gilit” has the same, “Aiden” has health and daycare, “home decor” is for things I clip from magazines or find that I may want to put up and like to take out pretty often to see if they work, and “photos” is the same concept for some professional photos we have that I take out at least once a week to hold up and say “nah…not over there…”
Then we have eight hanging file folders for the filing cabinet of things that we need to access less often.
You may have noticed that I took off the file labels. I love and am waiting to do the washi labeling system that I saw on (where else?) IHeart Organizing in this post.
Okay, this is going to blow your minds, but I have no washi tape. None. Nada. And the reason why? BECAUSE I CAN’T DECIDE ON WHAT PATTERN I WANT. Ridonkulous, right? I have commitment-phobia with washi tape. Marriage? No problem. Washi tape? I have doubts.
So, this is all of it. All of our files, official files, mementos, file boxes, and paper supplies.
I got a glimpse of it from the other side and loved how non-overwhelming and simple it looked.
Set up a schedule for dealing with your bills and follow it
All of our bills that have the option to be paid online, which is most of them, are. Tuvia and I decided a few weeks back (when we were being inundated with hospital bills from having Mia) that we have to sit together every Sunday night after Aiden goes to bed and go through the mail. Then we write the checks, file what needs to be put away, recycle the rest, and delegate what else has to be done that week so there’s no confusion.
It was a great system for the two weeks that we did it. But then Tuvia got sick and then Aiden got sick, so the past two weeks have been pretty off. I’m putting our Sunday night meeting on the family calendar so we see it and stick to it.
Do you have a filing system that works for you? Do you keep up with it regularly or come back to it every once in awhile? Or do you do it once a year kind of thing?