"I have to get to where my fear is greater than my pain." This is how my client expressed her need for motivation to create order with her paperwork.
Has your fear caught up with, or surpassed your pain of filing? How many hours would it take to collect the documents you'd need to refinance? Can you easily locate your family's birth certificates, medical records, or passports? How would you feel about an IRS visit?
Today's Timely Tips will help you reduce both the fear and the pain as you create homes and easy access for your long-term filing.
TIMELY TIPS - Fearless Filing Part 2
1. If you're starting with a file cabinet that you can't stuff another piece of paper into, it's time to purge. And even if there is room for more, it will be easier to find things if you remove outdated folders and documents. (See "How long do I really need to keep this?" for purging guidelines.)
2. Rather than having one long stream of A-Z folders, break down your files into categories. Place a tab that identifies the category on the right side of your hanging folders, and use the left side for tabs that name the individual folders. Here's a sampling of home office categories:
- Tax Documents - W2s, deductions, bank statements, etc.
- Paid Bills (non-tax related) - service provider statements, credit card statements, petty receipts, etc.
- Permanent Records - Auto Records, Birth Certificates, Home Records, Medical Records, Pet Records, Warranties/Manuals, Education Records, etc.
- Insurance - Auto, Health, Home, Life, etc.
- Resources - Gardening, Health/Fitness, Travel, other hobbies, etc.
3. The simplest way to file non-tax related paid bills is in monthly folders. As you pay a stack of bills, file them all together in the month you pay them. Since they're not tax related, there's no need to keep them once you've received verification that they received your last payment, but this gives you a way to save them for that year. If you prefer to save them longer, you can bundle them in a large envelope, date it, and re-use your January - December folders for the next year. I wouldn't recommend keeping them beyond an extra year, unless you have special circumstances that would require it.
4. The only thing left to do is-- make a plan to file! Doing it immediately is the best way to reduce the overwhelm of a stack of papers looming before you.You might prefer to schedule a time to file once a week or month. I use a wire basket in my home office and when it's full, it's time to file. Set yourself up for success by making a plan and sticking to it!
5. If just reading through these steps is causing anxiety, there is an easier way. Check out Freedom Filer. This label system is user friendly and provides a home for all the papers you need to keep. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a pre-made system in the Fresno/Clovis/Madera area.
Setting up a working system is an investment of time that will reap an environment of peace and productivity!
"Making things work takes work." -Maryann Donovan