Filing is very important and can be overwhelming at times but it doesn’t have to be. Below I have drawn out a very simple filing plan that I hope helps you get started toward a more organized “system” for your paperwork. The suggestions below in BOLD should be your hanging files and the suggestions below are the interior file folders which are where you will keep your paperwork specifically.
This is literally my suggestion for basic filing 101:
Home – Interior (I suggest using the street name)
Indoor Files should include: cleaning service, appliance repair, security system, plumber, electrician, handyman, etc.
Home – Exterior
Landscaper, trash company, sprinkler company, garage, etc.)
Family (Hanging file by individual name)
One file for each family member – you’ll want to break these files down to individual Doctors, Dentists, etc. Remember though, Social Security cards & birth certificates should be in your fireproof safe.
One for each utility company: Telephone, Gas/Electric, Cable/Satellite, Water Company, etc.
Auto, Homeowners (or Renters)
File by year and then break down into 2 files from there titled:
____ Taxes (Example: 2017 Taxes)
____ Donations (Example: 2017 Donations)
You will need to expand on this as necessary and/or for your personal situations. You might have another residence, you might travel frequently and need one for your frequent flier information. I also suggest that you keep your frequent flyer information (account numbers) in your phone so that you can access them while on the road when you might need them most (to reschedule a cancelled flight). You also might have a boat in which you can add the insurance in your insurance file right away. You could also just have a “Boat” file too.
Some people don’t understand why they need interior folders when they have setup the hanging file but they are necessary and here is why: should you need to pull a file you don’t want to pull the paperwork out loose as you might lose it and you don’t want to pull the hanging file out either as it isn’t designed to be carried around. Instead, make your interior files so that you can easily pull them out when necessary for reference or a meeting, etc. and then put them right back when you are finished with them.
Files are a fluid concept and will need tweaking from time to time as your life changes. Also, now-a-days we are able to download our bank statements online and therefore don’t need to file years of bank or investment statements anymore (yippee). I recommend downloading and saving anything that you can on your computer and you can use the same system above for your “digital” files as well.
I hope this motivates some of you to get started on your filing. It isn’t my favorite task but it is definitely one that is very important. Regardless of whether or not you keep your files digitally we are always going to have to deal with paper. Setting up your “system” is half the battle, once that’s done you can just put things away, it’s just that simple.
Does this motivate you to get started or do you think you are just going to keep adding to your “to file” pile?
Please comment below, I’d love to hear from you!