Whether you have a home office or a kitchen table for paying bills and keeping records, your job will be more difficult if you accumulate stacks of papers. As you open your bills or deal with important papers, it’s best to handle each one only a few times and to file it immediately. If that’s not possible, use a box, basket, or envelope to temporarily hold mail you don’t yet have time to open or papers you’ve gathered but haven’t yet sorted or processed.
If you can delegate some record-keeping tasks to someone else, you may want to provide them with a second box, basket, or envelope for the items they will process. Some people like to use a third container simply for papers that have already been handled and that need to be filed
Filing papers in labeled folders works best for most people. For ease of access, many people prefer the hanging style of file folder that can be suspended in file drawers or in any of the various plastic or cardboard boxes available at office supply stores. As you file each item, date it. If you decide to discard it instead, be sure to shred it or safely burn it if it includes sensitive information that could be misused by an identity thief.
Plan a system that will work for you — one that will help you make decisions easily.
- a. Share Record-Keeping Tasks
- b. Home Work Space
- c. Paper Handling & Filing
- d. Emergencies
- a. Which Papers to Keep
- b. Where to Keep Papers
- c. How Long to Keep Papers
- d. When to Update Papers
- e. How to Replace Papers
Organize Your Important Household Papers belongs to a series called Legally Secure Your Financial Future. The series also includes information to help you communicate with others and begin preparing your estate plan.