Photo Credit to Jeff Sheldon
Organize Your Files for the New Year
With the new year fast approaching, this is a great time to get all your important papers sorted through! Follow these steps to go through old documents, purge what needs to be thrown away, and make new folders for the new year!
1. Gather all your old paperwork, receipts, documents, ect.
First thing you need to do is gather all your important or other papers from around your home. Sort them into piles of throw away, file, or shred and get to work! If you have a bunch of receipts I recommend using the OneReceipt app, it allows you to snap a picture of the receipt and save it to your phone. I also highly recommend getting a shredder! Paper documents such as credit card applications, old bank statements, old paycheck stubs should be shredded or burned.
2. Make new file folders for 2015
Now is the time to make new file folders for 2015! This doesn’t have to be done for all your files, but I find that some files like taxes are best separated by year. I needed a file folder for my 2014 taxes because like most people I will soon start receiving those tax documents for 2014. Those who have their own businesses may need a 2015 folder at the beginning of the year, or multiple folders for taxes, but this is what works for me.
3. Purge old documents
At the end of the year, I go through all my documents and purge what is unnecessary. Many times I just put old documents in my files just to keep for at least the year. If receipts are not tax deductible, they can be thrown out a month later. I keep my receipts for big purchases like my laptop, and washer/dryer. Unlike my fiance who has receipts from Taco Bell from 2 years ago… I’m not kidding! According to the IRS, an audit can be done between 3 to 6 years after you file a return depending on your situation. Keeping tax documents is very important, but I would say after 6 years it is safe to shred or burn them.
If you need to know how long to keep papers for, here is a handy printable from Clean Mama.
4. Separate files by categories
The best way to keep all your files organized is to separate them into different categories. I start broad and work to more specific categories if one file gets too big. Here is a list of categories to give you an idea of what you should be keeping in files.
- Medical (Dentist, Eye Doctor, General)
- Vehicles (Title/Loan, Registration, Maintenance, Insurance)
- Banking (Checking, Savings, Credit Card(s), Stocks)
- Taxes (Separated by year)
- Pets (extra ID tags, medical records, insurance, shot records)
- Children (Each child should have their own folder)
- Educational records
- Work Records (payment stubs, resume)
- Family records
- Important Docs (Birth certificates, social security cards, marriage certificates, legal documents)
I actually do not label my important documents as such, I feel that makes it too easy for other people to find. I also do not put them under a specific person’s folder, again too easy for other people to find. Just pick a random word that fits in with your files, and just make a mental note that it is your important documents, and not your “Holidays” file, for instance.
5. File away
Once you have finished making new folders, it is time to file away any documents that you haven’t filed away yet. I actually like to keep one hanging file holder on my desk for easy access and then I have another one in my closet for older files and files I don’t have to access often. I am more likely to file away something right away if it is right in front of me. Even if you take 10 minutes once a week to go through your papers, and file them away, that will ultimately save you a lot of hassle.
Do you go through your files at the end of the year? How do you organize your files at home?
Erica is a full-time business student, part-time executive assistant, and full-time cat mom & fiancee. She lives in Baton Rouge, and is a sweet southern girl. She believes in thank you notes, garlic and red beans & rice on Mondays. She’s an aspiring professional organizer and she created her blog, Girl, Organized to help individuals and businesses bring order into their lives. Follow her on her journey to be a certified professional organizer and you’ll learn a few organizing tricks along the way as well!
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