Paperwork doesn’t have to be a struggle! My motto is less is more. I treat my paperwork like I treat my diet and exercise regimen, I work on it little by little each week, nothing too extreme.
Because I spend a little time maintaining my paperwork each week I have total control and I can find what I need at a moments notice. Gotta love that! I store all of my paperwork in one watertight bin that is easy move to the kitchen table when I am preparing our taxes and filing, and in case of an emergency (earthquake, fire, worlds colliding, etc..), I could grab it and go.
I bought colorful pink and green file folders so that filing wouldn’t be such a drag. I created labels for categories that are specific to our household needs. They include each individual tax year, auto insurance, renters insurance, our car, medical, certifications for Chris and myself, Harper our pooch, key documents, misc., our Chicago Condo, bank information, investments, my business Kuzak’s Closet, and business receipts.
You might be wondering how I am able to keep all of our paperwork in one single tub. Honestly, it is not impossible. Here are the guidelines I follow to stay organized:
- I control the paper coming into our house from the banks and our investment accounts by requesting electronic statements. This cuts down on a ton of weekly, monthly, and yearly paperwork. I log into my online accounts to make sure all of the charges and activity are legit every week.
- I spend 5 to 10 minutes each week maintaining my file box by filing the new mail and getting rid of the outdated materials.
I follow these guidelines regarding how long I need to keep my paperwork:
- Tax Paperwork: Keep your tax files for 7 years, if you would like to keep your tax summary or any check stubs written to the government past this point do so. This rule applies to end of year mortgage statements, medical receipts, child care receipts, and anything related to a home business or second home. Because I am self employed I need to keep my financial documents (business receipts, year end bank statements, tax paperwork) forever to prove my income
- Insurance Documents: Only keep insurance policy information and documentation for current policies
- Loan Information: Once a loan is paid off you only need to keep the confirmation that you are paid in full.
- Warranties and Manuals: Only keep warranty documents that are current and for products you still own.
- Utility bills: Unless you have a home office and need these for tax purposes, you can get rid of these bills are the end of each month. If you feel comfortable receiving them electronically do so, this saves you filing time and paper overload.
- Investment Account and Bank Statements: If your statements come in the mail and want to reconcile your accounts, keep the updated copy until the new copy arrives.
- Adoption Paperwork, Marriage License, Divorce Documents: Keep these forever.
- Car Titles: Keep these forever
- Home Improvement Information: Forever
Keep your original social security card, passport, and birth certificate, along with a copy of your marriage, divorce, adoption, and financial and credit card account information in a fireproof box in your home or a safety deposit box at the bank.
It is also a good idea to have a home inventory list documenting your furniture, artwork, jewelry, etc.. Include photos of each room and keep this list in a fireproof box or safety deposit box. Click here for an easy computer program that will help you.
Remember, these are general guidelines. Every case is different and if you have specific paperwork questions please send me an email, I would love to answer it. If you like my tub and file system and would like one for yourself, I sell them to my clients and I would be happy to deliver one to you if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I hope this post will help you get your paperwork in order soon! Happy Organizing!