Papers! They seem to multiply on their own, don’t they?
Learning how to organize your important papers is a must if you want to have peace of mind, reclaim control of your documents and simplify your life. And after doing your taxes last month, it’s the next logical step.
Organize your Important Papers
A few years back I wrote a post on what to take in case of an emergency evacuation. In doing so, I realized how little control over our lives we would have if we didn’t have access to our important papers.
We have a filing cabinet that has all of our essential documents. I’m usually able to find what I need in minutes. What I wanted though, was something more portable for quick and easy access. A binder I could grab swiftly that would have pretty much everything.
NO MORE searching for account numbers. NO MORE looking for that last bank statement. NO MORE hunting for files EVER! Time to Organize your Important Papers
1. Write Down Your Important Information
A while back at our local Home Show, I got a hold of our city’s Emergency Guide. There was lots of info in there and the inspiration to create my own ALL IN ONE file that would contain every piece of important information.
Once the document is filled, you only need to update this once a year and you have a pretty good handle on your finances and personal information.
Want to get even more organized? Welcome to step two: organizing physically your most important papers.
2. Put Together Your Binder
To make this truly portable, get a binder, some dividers and page protectors and start assembling.
Here is the list of documents I have in mine: Home Binder File, Mortgage Statement, Property Taxes, Home & Car Insurance, Bank & Investment Info, Utilities, Medical Benefits & Life Insurance. The other document that would be useful and is on my list of things to do is a property inventory.
The idea is to keep only the last statement in your binder. When a new statement arrives, replace it in your binder and shred the old one or file if you’re keeping. Or you could simply print one statement at the beginning of the year and add to your binder. Make sure you update once a year.
If that’s still too much paper and you do a lot of these transactions online, you could also simply scan or screen grab a picture of your accounts and assemble them all in one folder on your computer.
3. Protect Your Information
I’m still on the fence about how secure virtual clouds are. But backing up your now organized important papers is good practice, making this not only portable but accessible from anywhere.
Whether you choose to scan everything or take pictures and save the files to a cloud or an external device, make sure your information is secure.
Nowadays, unfortunately, ID fraud is a fact of life, so password protect your Home Binder and your important scanned documents and read up on ID Fraud.
For information about shredding, here is some indication in Alberta, or simply Google the information with the name of your city.
Organizing your important papers