Organize Your Important Household Papers: Introduction

Man with stacks of paper

One of life’s most important lessons is distinguishing what is trivial from what is not. While we’re tempted to lump our personal documents among life’s petty details, their significance can be major. How quickly could we access our birth certificates, immunization records, wills, vehicular titles, or even three-month-old credit card statements? Did we file them away and, if so, where? How long would it take to find—or replace—them?

A systematic plan for keeping track of important papers can save hours of anxious searching. When something happens to us, it allows our loved ones to readily locate our health-care powers of attorney, insurance policies, medical records, and outstanding bills. If we experience fire, flood, or theft, we can lay our fingers on essential documents without delay. If we’re meeting with an attorney or financial adviser, we can prepare in an hour rather than a week. Even on an everyday basis, systematic recordkeeping makes it easier to pay bills on time, find receipts, and share paperwork chores. What’s not to like about that?!

In this lesson, you will:

  • Identify and inventory important papers
  • Organize your home office space
  • Organize and/or replace important papers
  • Set realistic goals for getting organized