Paper File Organization

August 23, 2017

Organize files and folders and minimize paper clutter with these tips

I had no idea how controversial paper file organization could be until I moved in with my husband. He is of the belief that because we live in a digital age, keeping paper files is antiquated and unnecessary… but I have ALWAYS kept a tidy filing box full of important documents, which has served me very well over the years! Hard copies of tax returns, medical records and receipts, car repair records – all of these have come in handy and each time I thank myself for keeping them so well organized.

With that said, my file box had become a dumping ground for a bunch of other items that really weren’t worth keeping: old magazine clippings, photocopies of old IDs and credit cards I had used during travel, old wedding business cards and pamphlets, old generic birthday cards, and other items that I didn’t have any practical or true sentimental reason for storing. So I got rid of those and downsized from my old file box to one that’s half the size (and more attractive TBH).

If you’ve also fallen into a paper hoarding trap, then maybe this system will benefit you as well. Read on to see how I downsized and organized my paper files.

Here are the products I used:

Paper file organization tips and how to minimize paper clutter!

My first step was determining which file categories were necessary vs which I could live without. What I ended up with are seven main hanging files.

File Organization

  1. HOME – Lease documents, mortgage documents, repair documents, etc.
  2. AUTO – Records of repairs, warranties, recalls, etc. This file came in handy when I sold my car on Craigslist earlier this year – so happy I had those records on hand!
  3. TAX – It’s recommended to keep at least the last 3 years of tax records on hand (and up to 7 years in some cases). Having hard copies of these came in handy for me recently – an old hard drive of mine which stored soft copies of my tax records died on me earlier this year, and had I not kept hard copies I wouldn’t have been able to scan and send them to our lender in order to get approved for a mortgage last month!
  4. HEALTH – Shot records, prescription records (vision and otherwise), bills, etc. Because my husband and I have moved a lot over the past 10 years (a new city every other year almost!), we have had to switch doctors a lot as well. It has been helpful to keep these records on hand so I can easily scan/send/fill-in my new doctors with my medical history. They always appreciate this and I think I get better care in return.
  5. CAREER – As a consequence of moving so often, we have also changed employment almost as often. This file stores 401k transfer documents and benefits information.
  6. FINANCE – This file is probably the most optional of the bunch – I use it to store annual performance reports for our investments.
  7. MISCELLANEOUS – I added sub-folders within this hanging file that didn’t fit anywhere else, but were still worth keeping. “Wedding” for example, holds my wedding ring appraisal documents. Important to keep, but those documents don’t really fit in any other main hanging file.

All of these documents fit inside of a 7″ wide hanging file box that I can store on my desk or on a shelf. Pretty simple!

File Organization Products:

 

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