Simplify your filing system


Winter is finally done and taxes have been filed.  It’s National Organize Your Files Week and a good time to simplify your filing system.

Who likes to file papers?  Not me!  But, it’s necessary to make sure we can find important papers when we need them.  However, I find many of my clients have set up detailed filing systems that make filing difficult and time consuming.

The most effective way to cut down on filing is to reduce the number of statements you receive in the first place.  By switching to online statements (and not printing them!), you will greatly reduce the amount you have to file.

But, what if you aren’t comfortable having your information only accessible online?  A easy way to file is to set up one file for each month:

  1. Rather than have a separate file for each utility, bank, credit card, insurance, loan, or any other statement or invoice that you receive, set up 12 monthly folders.
  2. Each month, save the statements and invoices that you received that month in the monthly folder.
  3. The next year, at the start of the month, you can clear out the previous year’s paper, review it to see if you need to keep anything, and shred the rest.

Of course there is some information that should be filed in separate folders.  Here are a few examples:

  1. Automotive Records: For each vehicle, you should keep track of all maintenance and repairs.
  2. Investments:  Keep yearly statements showing all transactions for the year.
  3. Medical History:  Although your medical invoices and receipts can be kept with your taxes or monthly folders (depending on your circumstances), you should keep a history of any surgeries and medical conditions.
  4. Property Records:  Keep purchase records as long as you own your home.    
  5. Taxes:   Keep at least 3 years of tax returns and supporting documentation.   Keep 6 years if you are concerned you may be audited for under reporting income.
  6. Vital Records:  Vital Records,such as birth and marriage certificates, passports, car titles, loan settlements, etc should be kept in a fire proof safe or safety deposit box.

Everyone’s filing needs and system is different and the important thing is to find the one that works for you.


Cathy Dryden

I am Cathy Dryden, and I started neat chic organizing to empower others to lead more fulfilling lives by helping them to become more organized through individualized coaching and training.



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