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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Part 3: Taming The Paper Monster

Ok, for now, the final paper management entry...I MUST mention the unmentionable...The family file cabinet..EVERY home must have one...a sturdy one..and one with some size to it..no cheap little one drawer thing..just doesn't work long term! Chasing after paper costs time, money and adds unnecessary stress to our lives! But just to have one is not enough...You must manage it! This may seem like a daunting task, but it does not have to be. Here are a few suggestions:


Of course, as previously mentioned, set a realistic goal, straighten up the house, be fully dressed and get to work! (I think it is fun to tell a close friend what you are doing too! Keeps ya honest) Remember, that usually, all organizing tasks take, on the average, 2 times longer than we think it will take us!


~Gather supplies: pad of paper, pen, new file folders and a labeler!


~Yes, you must first actually OPEN the drawers. Take a brief look inside and make a list of the files that you have currently. Now, close the drawer(s). At this point, I would sit don and think about what files you need to add and what can be taken away. 


~If your files and their labels are old and ratty, start with new ones! And as always, label things attractively...I always prefer a labeler over hand written!


~Make all new files with labels.


~Now, yes, you must re open the drawers...ugh! Go ahead~Purge and re file contents, taking one file at a time. Again, I sit on the floor with a trash can and shredder near by!


~Alphabetize the files..this will make locating a file a snap!


~Make yourself an appointment one year from when you tackle this to do it again! 


~Don't forget to file from your short term filing system into the main files at least once a week..and you may find that you need to add files as life changes...


"FIND EVERYTHING YOU NEED WHEN YOU NEED IT, GET EVERYTHING DONE WHEN IT'S DUE" 





Studies show that most of us keep papers WAY too long!  Here is a general guideline for the average household: My suggestion would be for you to copy this on an index card and tape it to the inside of the file cabinet..


Receipts—1 month
Bank Statements—1 year (save annual statements for 7 years in case you get audited)
Credit Card Statements—45 days to 7 years. Throw out statements once you confirm that receipts match up with statements; keep for 7 years if tax-related
Loan and Mortgage Statements—For the length of the loan or mortgage, plus 7 years
Medical Bills—1 year after they’ve been paid off
Tax Documents—7 years
Home Improvement Receipts—Until your house sells. Proof of spending can sometimes be used to lower your taxes, and you may need proof to the buyer of how recent the improvements or repairs were
Investment Statements—Indefinitely~ I have to say that I don't agree with this one. We can access all of our statements online and we are paperless in this area.
Utility Bills~If you feel it necessary to keep these, 6 months at most...I shred them. Once again, you can access all of the info that you may need in the future online!


If you need guidance, accountability, or just someone there to keep you on task, call me and we can set up an appointment!..   

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