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Overflowing filing cabinet!

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
What are you supposed to keep? get rid of? save for a certain amount of time?

I have no clue, so I save EVERYTHING!!!!!!!

It is totally out of hand!

bank statements
old utility bills
pay stubs
medical bills
taxes

I am literally drowning in paper here!!
post #2 of 10
I know how you feel! I'm about to conquer ours (again). I do it about once a year, but I realize that I still keep some things I don't need. Here are a couple links about how long to keep papers: here and here. (The second one is a lot simpler if you don't want to be overwhelmed with info.)

I'm planning to be a bit more ruthless with utility bills and I'm only going to keep them for one month. I figure everything is computerized so if I needed a copy for some reason, I could contact the company. Also, any user's manuals are going in the recycling bin because you can get them online now.
post #3 of 10

Overflowing filing cabinet!

Hi,
I have a lot of stuff starting to overflow in my filing cabinet and I need to spring clean it. I know there are certain lengths of time that you keep things. Some are 3 years some ar 1 some are 5, but I just don't know exactly what is what. Help please!


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post #4 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alizixia View Post
Hi,
I have a lot of stuff starting to overflow in my filing cabinet and I need to spring clean it. I know there are certain lengths of time that you keep things. Some are 3 years some ar 1 some are 5, but I just don't know exactly what is what. Help please!

See the links I provided. They tell you how long you need to keep everything.
post #5 of 10
one thing I've seen on TV (but not yet implemented LOL)
is to put papers in binders not by what they are /go together with

but by how long you are supposed to keep them
- some bills you only need to keep them for one year = a "keep for1 year" binder
-some bills you need to keep for 2 years => a "keep for 2 years" binder
- etc ....

so that when you open your binder and the stuff at the back is older than how long it's written on the binder that you need to keep it for = you don't have to think too much, it decreases the decision time/processus, and maybe you don't feel too bad about throwing away stuff since you've already decided/classified it somewhere where it says "keep for so long"

has anyone tried that yet ?
post #6 of 10
I must add that I 've been so far as printing lists (suitable for my country) of what to keep for how long .... but I'm stuck at the decision time

... so far, my binders are still organised by theme and not by duration ...

It gets me majorly anxious to get going; the best I have managed so far is researching the issue, printing out what I need to know .... it's doing the switch (concentrating all the decision times basically) that I stumble on !!!

my brain doesn't seem to accept to consider things calmly when I get the lists out of the binder, I'm so worried of doing it "wrong" ....
post #7 of 10
I get rid of all old utility bills/financial statements after one year. I don't stress about it, because I decided years ago to only keep them for one year. The only exceptions are student loan statements. I do still get rid of them after one year, but I scan them and keep a digital copy first. I do this because the student loan people screw up a lot, and months later will try to tell me that my payment in March of last year was never received. But since I have a scanned copy of April's statement showing that they received March's payment, I can send that right off to them and get it straightened out quickly.

So, my suggestion would be to scan anything you are particularly worried about, shred the hard copy, and not worry about it too much. This has worked well for us, our file cabinet stays organized, and I don't have to stress about it.

Another thing I do, at the end of the year, is pull out all statements of benefits from our health insurance company (and the doctor bills that go with them) and file them in a banker's box in the basement. They need to be kept indefinitely, but they don't need to be at my fingertips. They're out of the way but I can get my hands on them if the need should ever arise. I do the same thing with older tax returns.
post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinza View Post



Another thing I do, at the end of the year, is pull out all statements of benefits from our health insurance company (and the doctor bills that go with them) and file them in a banker's box in the basement. They need to be kept indefinitely, but they don't need to be at my fingertips. They're out of the way but I can get my hands on them if the need should ever arise. I do the same thing with older tax returns.
Tell me about this. Why would you need them again? Is it a way to keep medical records for yourself, too? Or do you have insurance coming back to you saying you owe them money? I keep medical statements/bills, but not the stuff from insurance. Our company sends SO much (imo) unnecessary paperwork.
post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by homemademom View Post
Tell me about this. Why would you need them again? Is it a way to keep medical records for yourself, too? Or do you have insurance coming back to you saying you owe them money? I keep medical statements/bills, but not the stuff from insurance. Our company sends SO much (imo) unnecessary paperwork.
Well, I don't know for sure that I do need to keep all of it. Some of the websites you can check telling you how long to keep paperwork says to keep all medical stuff forever, so I do. We have major health issues in this house, and if a mistake were to come up and we couldn't prove that the insurance company/a doctor's office/a hospital had made a mistake, it could end up costing us tens of thousands. Theoretically even more. So, I keep it all.

We have had to dispute things with the insurance company before, but it's always been a recent problem in the same year. There's always the possibility of an error from a previous year. We've won every fight with the insurance company because of their own documentation.

If you don't have tons of medical expenses, it might not be a big deal to you. It wasn't a big deal to me until I married someone with a chronic, life-threatening illness. I used to just toss my insurance statements! But, when I took over the record-keeping here, and saw the sheer amount of money that could be involved, I realized that all medical-financial stuff had to be kept. I may scan it at some point, but it is a massive amount of paperwork, as you said. I just don't feel like starting that project. It's easier just to file it by year and stick it someplace out of the way.
post #10 of 10
Kinza, that makes a lot of sense. Especially if you're having to pay a lot of money out of your own pocket and disputing things with them. Thanks for explaining. And I'm sorry you're dealing with such serious health issues
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