Monday, November 26, 2012

How to File Paperwork

As the year comes to a close, I wanted to take a second to reflect on the paperwork organization system that I've been trying for the past 12 months.  

The set-up was really simple. I purchased a plastic bin that could accommodate hanging folders. I made a folder for each of the following categories:
  • Bills
  • Consulting records
  • Important records (birth certificates, social security cards, etc.)
  • Hoss
  • Receipts
  • Taxes
  • Cars
  • Henry Medical
  • Medical
  • Financial
  • Insurance
  • Montessori
  • House
  • Matt
We have a separate plastic bin with file folders for warranties, manuals, etc. We have one more bin for our taxes (organized into manilla envelopes with the year written on them). (These things are separate because I already had two smaller bins and didn't want to purchase unnecessary plastic.)

When mail comes in, I open it and process it into three piles:
  • To recycle
  • To shred (e.g., credit card solicitations that could be used for identity theft)
  • To file
Then I take the "To file" pile to my bin and file everything accordingly. I file all bills in one folder (with the most recent at the front) because I rarely have to go back and reference these. I've found that more granular organization is not necessary.

At the end of this year, I'm going to go through each folder and transfer stuff to separate manilla folders that are labeled "Financial 2012," "Insurance 2012," etc. That way, I can keep the manilla envelopes a couple years and then shred them. Here's a good guide for how long to keep paperwork.

If we can keep up with the system, I think it will work well for many years to come. As long as we shred the paperwork that becomes obsolete, we'll make room for the new paperwork, which will make scanning unnecessary.

P.S. I'm trying out a new posting schedule where I post on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, so I'll see you on Wednesday!

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Carrie said...

Sara, you should be able to cease unwanted credit card solicitations. I forget how to do it, but I did it about a year ago, and it greatly reduced the junk mail pile/need for shredding. Maybe Google it?

Carrie said...

Here you go!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Thanks, Carrie!

Natalie Hinkley said...

I so need to impliment this in my house. It always looks like our mailbox exploded all over the kitchen...

Unknown said...

I love your posts about organization - it gives me motivation and inspiration!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Thanks for your kind words, Unknown! I just added a photo to give you a better sense of what it looks like.

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