Setting up a home filing system allows you to quickly retrieve important papers and information. Setting it up is easy. Follow these steps.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- File folders
- Trash can
- File cabinet
Gather all your papers into one location. Retrieve papers from the office, the car, your purse, the dining room table and any place else you have stored them. Create one large pile of all the papers that need to be sorted and filed. Don't let the size of the pile intimidate you.
Start sorting the papers into sub-piles, such as family, business, bills, taxes, personal and miscellaneous.
Throw papers away as you go. Keep a large garbage bag nearby as well as a shredder. Don't shred as you go but wait until you have thoroughly sorted every paper and shred everything at once.
Create file folders for each sub-category and sub-sub-category. Under Auto, you might have a file called "Auto payments," "Auto Insurance" and "Auto Repairs." Create as many folders as you need to quickly retrieve your papers. Categories could include: your children (a file for each), travel, home, addresses and phone numbers, taxes (current year and past years), financial, paid bills, mortgage information, insurance policies, receipts, education, medical, bank statements, credit card statements, investments, pay stubs and article clippings.
Separate out papers that need to be filed in a secure location such as a fire-proof safe or a safety deposit box. This would include bank account information, passports, birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce papers, deeds, death certificates and wills.
File the labeled folders into a filing cabinet, keeping the most used near the front of the drawer.
Place a separate file folder in the very front of the drawer, marked "To File." Place papers to be filed in this folder and file once a week or once a month.
Get in the habit of sorting your mail and papers over the trash can. By dealing with papers immediately, you will not have to deal with a pile of papers to be sorted.
Re-sort your papers once a year, purging as you go through each file.
Tips and warnings
- Use a small 2-year calendar as a bill keeper. Mark the date and amount of each bill and rubber band the bills within the calendar. When it is time to pay the bills, you can just grab the calendar and pay the bills due that week.
- There is not one right way to create a home filing system. Each family and home has unique needs and requirements. Modify your plan to fit your needs.
- Shred all papers that have personal or confidential information to protect your privacy and safeguard your accounts.