Family File Folders

(OR Playing with Colorful Office Supplies)

As we looked at last week, a simple family budget is a great way to begin measuring and managing a large part of our homes...the moo-lah. While overseeing the flow of money in and out each month is important, it is equally important to keep well-organized records. Humans have a knack for accumulating ridiculous amounts of paper. Bills, pay stubs, junk mail, flyers, receipts—the list goes on and on. Before you know it, it’s easy to feel like you’re drowning in a sea of scrap paper.
source - gotta love random stock photography!
A family file system is the answer! 

Creating a filing system for your home papers is an easy project that not only makes life easier, but also has the potential to save you lots of money in the long run. Taxes, warranty information, records of bills paid...all have money-saving applications if ever called into question later on.

To begin, gather all your household papersand I mean all of them. (I find it easiest to just sit on the floor with lots of room all around you,) A notepad and pen will also be in order.

     - Sort everything into general piles (including a trash pile). Broad categories may include: housing, auto, 
       credit cards, medical, taxes, investments, warranties, etc.
     - Once every piece of paper has been sorted into a specific pile (no skipping!), take one pile at a time and 
       break them down into subcategories. Make an outline of these categories on your paper. 
       Ours looks something like this:
     - Now that you have an outline of your system, it’s time to get supplies! It’s tempting to get supplies first but 
       I recommend doing the list first so you’ll know exactly how much to purchase.
               » First, determine how large of a container is necessary to hold everything. Some families will 
                  need a larger cabinet while others (like us) find a small file box sufficient.
                » Get folders. Staples, Office Depot, Office Max, and Walmart all have tons of options in various 
                   colors and styles. We like hanging folders for our main categories with plain manila folders for 
                   each subcategory. Color-coding categories is also a minimally more expensive option.
     - Once you have what you need, label and arrange your piles accordingly. Then, find an easily accessible but 
       somewhat conspicuous place to keep it in your home. 
     - Each month as bills are paid, use a common location to corral papers (a "command center") that will need 
       to be filed and those that can be tossed. Each week, file the important ones.
     - At the end of the year, it is a good practice to go through your folders and eliminate records that are no 
       longer needed. Just make sure to shred these items as they may have sensitive information on them. 
       If investing in a home shredder is impractical, simply bag the documents up and take them to your locate 
       Staples or Office Depot, both of which offer a shredding service for cents per pound.

How long should you keep specific records? The IRS publishes their recommendations online as well as their suggestions for managing household papers and important documents. If you own a fireproof safe, their recommendations for what it should contain are helpful as well; if not, you may want to consider investing in one. (We're still looking in to this.)

So now you have a great (albeit not super exciting) system for bills, important documents, and receipts. 
Next week, we'll get back to more fun stuff, like Meal Planning!!

This post is part of the Modern Simple Homemaking series.
To learn more about this series and see other posts, click the button above.

1 comment:

  1. I think a small file box like the one you showed here is a great idea. I currently have a binder with folders, but honestly it's not very well organized. That's a great idea!


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