This question is often asked. With the amount of paper and information we have these days, it’s hard to figure out how to categorize all the various papers and files at home. What I’ve found is that they fall into four basic categories: Financial, Vital Records, Household, and Personal.
If you group them together by category, it will help you stay organized. For example, you could put each category into a separate file drawer or file box or group them together using different colored file folders so each category is easily identified.
Here are some suggested sub-categories within each group:
Financial: Bank statements, paid bills, credit card statements, cheaphostingforum pay stubs, receipts of major purchases, social security, and tax records are a few types of files in this category. Some of these you can save online. Check with your accountant to determine how long to keep these records.
Vital Records: These include birth certificates, marriage certificate, adoption records, credit report, death certificates, educational records, passports, safe deposit box inventory and wills. Some of these you may decide to keep in a safe or safety deposit box. Just remember to keep a list handy of what’s there.
Household: Automobile records, household inventory, insurance records, medical records and warranties & service contracts. The reason for separating these records from vital records is that you will probably refer to these throughout the year whereas the others will only occasionally be referenced.
Personal: This category includes things like address lists, correspondence, decorating ideas, entertaining, memorabilia, travel & maps, and hobbies. While for some people, these may only need a single file folder, for most of us any one of these might need its own file box.
Be creative in coming up with the file names that support your individual activities. I have a hanging file folder to collect ideas that I might use for art projects or collage and the file tab is titled Creative Me. Then when an opportunity comes along to create, I can go right to the file and grab an assortment of clippings to use.
In addition to setting up your own files, you can also find file packages at office supply stores designed for taxes, medical payments and bill paying. The key is to group things in categories that work for you. The four categories outlined here are a good place to start.
Jill McKean helps busy professionals and people in transition who want to achieve more in less time. With her 7 Steps to Office Productivity, she helps clients get organized both on-site and by phone coaching. Jill is a member of NAPO and NSGCD.
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