. How Do I Sort/Store Current Paperwork?
This is a great question with an easy answer. I use a simple system to handle this kind of paperwork:
I have found the best way to deal with bills is to open the envelope, discard all unnecessary paperwork and then staple the rest together, with the sheet to be sent with the check on top. When I am ready to write my check or pay online, I remove the top sheet to put with the check and then file the rest of stapled paperwork in my This Year’s Taxes folder. This is the first step to keeping order.
I have found that saving all paid bills until its time to prepare the following year’s taxes is sufficient. I keep my paid bills in my current year’s tax folder, use their information for deductions if necessary (in which case this paperwork is saved with my taxes paperwork) or I throw them out as part of my tax preparations.
I save bank statements for one year, too, but keep the canceled check images indefinitely. This means that the bank statements for last year are tossed when I do this year’s taxes. I also save credit card bills for one year. For example, I kept all paperwork for 2009 until April 2010. By that time, I had a four-month buffer of new paid bills in my “2010” This Year’s Taxes folder.
Then the 2009 paperwork was trashed unless I needed to keep it for tax purposes. If the paperwork was needed for tax referencing, then these papers were stored in my taxes folder and put away in a file cabinet.
This pattern of staple it, save it, and store it keeps my files cleaned out, my life neat, and my paperwork under control. Hope it works for you, too!
Find more helpful ideas in my House of Order Handbook.
Photo from sxc.hu, permission from plex.