March 15, 2014

How To Organize Papers In Your Filing Cabinet

Choose a different hanging file color, or label color if you prefer, for each numbered section following.

Bullet point items each get a separate, labeled hanging folder in the color chosen for that number (I alphabetize them).

I personally like all the labels in a straight row front to back and not staggered. This way, if I add a category, I can still keep them alphabetized and don't have to move around labels...

1. 12 Monthly Files Labeled January through December
     Statements, Paid Bills, Receipts

Into each monthly file:
Bank Statements 
Credit Card Statements (paid)
Current Monthly Bills (paid)
Utility Bills (paid)
TIP: I put a clip on the current month file to find it quickly.

At the end of the year, monthly files get kept for 3 years (or whatever the IRS demands) at the rear of the cabinet.
(I put unpaid bills in an “action file” either on the desk, entry or command center.

2. Policies and Accounts (Update as new ones come in)
  • ·       Auto Insurance
  • ·       Bank Accounts (May use inner folders for different institutions)
  • ·       Credit Card Policies
  • ·       Credit Reports
  • ·       Employee Benefits
  • ·       Health Insurance
  • ·       Home Insurance
  • ·       Investments
  • ·       Loans
  • ·       Medical
  • ·       Memberships/Clubs/Rewards
  • ·       Resumes
  • ·       Warranties

3. Permanent Records  
    Family History, Etc.

  •         Education  (Diplomas)
  • ·       Health-Care Proxy
  • ·       Home Improvement Receipts
  • ·       Jury Duty Service
  • ·       Major Purchase Receipts
  • ·       Medical and Dental Records
  • ·       Pension Plan Documents (Current and Former Employees)
  • ·       Pet Records

4. Taxes
   a) Income/Tax Deductions
  • ·       Tax Documents From Banks, 1099’s, w2’s, Mortgage Company, Employers
  • ·       Charitable Donations
  • ·       Childcare Expenses
  • ·       Education Expenses
  • ·       Home Improvements
  • ·       Interest and Dividend Statements
  • ·       Medical Expenses
  • ·       Mortgage Interest Statements

b) Business Income Expenses If Own Business (See IRS website or accountant) 

    Items on Schedule C   

*Please speak to a professional accountant before filing taxes. The suggestions in this post are to prepare for filing, throughout the year. 

*Essential records such as birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, custody certificates, adoption paperwork, auto/truck titles, patents and copyrights, tax returns from past 7 years, Social Security cards, military discharge papers, passports, current deeds and mortgage agreement, lease agreement, naturalization/citizenship paperwork, current insurance policies, stock/bond certificates, copies of wills, trusts, and powers of attorney should be kept in a safe-deposit box.

There is a web site provided by the federal government that gives additional help on record keeping for individuals. The web site is:

These are basic suggestions. There are various ways to do this. You need to find what works best for you and you may want to add folder categories as you go along. I also have filing systems that may work better for you if you don’t like to file in a cabinet…

I don't use a Miscellaneous label heading. I always think of a specific name to label extra categories such as Interior Ideas, Workouts, etc. so I can easily find them. 

Are there other categories you use in your own file cabinet?

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