Who couldn’t use some handy tips to organize papers? It seems that the paperless society will remain a myth because how to manage the ever increasing amount of paperwork generated remains a common complaint from the average home owner and business person. Everyone should organize papers so that personal and finance related documents should be easy to find - this applies not only to you, but to anyone else who might need the information. Here are useful tips to organize papers to help you meet the demands of keeping track of your never ending paper trail.
1. Always Prepared
Always Prepared is the motto of the United States Coastguards but it has been well tried and tested for many generations. It can still work for you today as one of the tips to organize papers. You never know when or who is going to need urgent access to any of your documents, especially if you are not around! To begin to get paperwork in order, make two piles of papers: one that must be disposed of and the other to be kept.
2. Keeping and Dumping
A big question for many of us is what paperwork we need to keep and what must go. Your monthly paychecks, investment account statements need only be retained until you receive your yearly W-2 and 1099 forms. You can dispose of credit card, banking statements and bills that are more than one year old. Other documents that you can turn into waste paper include outdated insurance policies and annual Social Security statements. Then there are those expired warranties, instruction manuals for bygone products and other no longer needed, space wasting papers.
3. Be Paper Selective
A tip for organizing important papers is that you ensure they are not needed for tax purposes; such as a home office, or proof of another deductible expense. It could benefit you by asking your attorney and financial adviser what paperwork, if any, they have on file related to their business with you. Also, confirm how long it is kept!
4. Designing a Secure Storage System
You should now have a significantly reduced pile of papers. Now it is time to create a filing system by which any paperwork can be found easily by anyone at anytime. Security is crucial, as it is no good having a wonderful storage system only to see it go up in smoke. Therefore, any irreplaceable documents should preferably be placed in a fire and waterproofed container.
5. Documents You Must Keep
For any emergency situation, it is crucial that information is obtained quickly. Therefore, ensure your secured documents include:
• Marriage and birth certificates
• Social Security cards
• Wills and Deeds
• Current Insurance policies
• Vehicle titles and license copies
• Home contents inventory
6. Active and Other Paper Files
Separate files should be made for your current paperwork and for individual financial accounts, with the most recent documents at the front. One of the handy tips to organize documents is to have a separate file for those that require action, such as bills that need paying. Your tax documentation should be isolated from everything else, for example, supporting receipts and bills for the return next year. Previous tax returns should be kept separately, identified by their year.
7. Do Not Hoard Paper
Waste papers waste your time and space, so when sorting what you need to keep, justify the need for it. It is always advisable to shred the papers you dispose of, as this could be a treasure of information for any potential identify thief. Another tip for organizing paperwork is to approach your bank regarding any free shredding days sponsored by them.
8. Backing up Documents
The backing up of any important data is now an accepted part of everyday life and is also applicable to your valuable documents. Make duplicated sets of them, to be held by reliable sources which are always available. An ordinary disc or flash drive is the ideal and convenient facility, but make sure it is properly identified and secured by the holder.
9. Safe Deposit Box
A security tip for a paper organizer is a safe deposit box, which some banks offer as a free or discounted service, otherwise, the annual fee is about $100 for a year. However, they do provide a convenient storage facility for documents that you do not need frequent access to. These could include copies of the documents from your home storage system or an executed will.
10. Keep It Going
Possibly the most useful of all the tips to organize paperwork is that once you have made the initial effort to get all your documents neat, tidy, sorted and accessible, do not let all that work go to waste. Make it a regular action to keep it organized. Keeping paperwork up to date and organized is an easy job if you do it as a matter of course.
It has been estimated that the average American tax payer spends about 19 hours compiling their tax returns. Most office workers spend about 30 minutes each week looking for paperwork. This is due to disorganization of the paper chain, which shows the power effective paper management could have! Don’t be in the ranks of the disorganized and disorderly. Implement these tips to organize papers and grab some time back. Any more tips, ladies?