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How do you organize important papers, bills, etc?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
We have SO much paper, and dh thinks he has to save every bill, and so much more. Does anyone know what actually needs to be saved? How do you keep it all organized? We used to get those big portable filing folder things (don't know what they're called) for every year but as you can imagine it's beginning to take up quite a bit of space. Any advice?
post #2 of 17
I have heard from dh but don't quote me that paper bills are not required to hold onto anymore you could scan every month and burn them onto a cd.
We try to do that to cut down on paper, we have a filing binder those accordian style then dh scans them into the computer
post #3 of 17
I think the general rule is utilities, etc, for a year, taxes forever?, bank statements for 7 years, tax receipts for 7 years, toss everything else?

I don't save utility statements, I don't even save bank statements because I was drowning in paper and can look it up online I only have our taxes from last year and this year LOL I'm not one to take my own advice, though it has burnt me in the butt a few times.

To file I use 1-1/2 inch binders you can get at Wally world for like 50 cents. I have one for each of these

House/mortgage/home insurance

Tax receipts; Home improvement receipts, work related expences (everything! Clothes, tools, printer ink, etc), medical receipts, charity receipts. Eventually the 1099s and W4s,

Car stuff; Title, registration, repair receipts I might need, DMV stuff, insurance stuff

Bank statements
sectioned by bank or a separate one for each bank (as admitted above, I don't do this any more, but it is handy)

Pets; vet bills, medication information, registration information if needed, training info.

Work; dividers between DH's and mine because there isn't a whole lot, but resumes, company handbooks, signed stuff for when we started the job, timecards (we don't save those), paycheck stubs (don't save those either, but should)


Cara
post #4 of 17
:
post #5 of 17
We keep them in three ring binders, periodically going through and purging old stuff we no longer need. It's so much easier to reference that way than in a folder box I think.

If you have investments that you hold long term, you'll definitely want to keep the statements from your broker telling you what you bought them for - its a pain in the freekin butt when you sell them to do your taxes if you don't know what your cost basis was and generally the brokerage firms don't keep track very well.
post #6 of 17
Taxes only need to be kept for seven years (the amount of back time the IRS could audit), as well as any tax receipts (i.e. if you took a deduction for a charity, hang onto the receipt as it's your only proof). Things like bank statements and bills, unless you have a specific reason for keeping them longer three months should be plenty. Depending on your need for security -- I've been dumping my bank statements except for last month, once everything is balanced and accounted for. Really, the only reason you'd need them is to dispute the bank and you'd need the receipts for any disputed item as well.

Paystubs should be kept for a year, to verify/check W-2's.

Obviously things like warranties, registaration/car title info and medical records need to be kept longer. From an organization standpoint, I believe an average family should need no more than one small filing cabinet for their lifetime unless they have some extraordinary paperwork needs (i.e. lots of medical info or large donations/purchases of stocks or some such)
post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamaley
How do you keep it all organized?
organized : : : : : :



whooooo, that was funny


organized























can you tell I should LIVE in this forum? LOL
post #8 of 17
With most utilities, you can access your old statements online. If not, keep them for a year. Hole punch and put into a large 3 ring binder that is seperated by tabs.

We have a household notebook that sits on top of the computer that keep all paperwork that we need to keep out that can not be filed (invites, rebates, school calenders etc).

I also agree with the scan idea...You can save bills into yearly folders with monthy subfolders. You can just delete the month folder once it is more than 12 months old.

We are in a massive purge now...or my husband is of boxes and boxes of pre marriage and military paperwork. have 2 tubs set up (shred and recycle). It helps having a specific container for things to go to.
post #9 of 17
We have a two drawer filing cabinet but really only use one drawer.

Taxes - keep for 7 years

Bank Statements - keep for 7 years (to verify interest for tax purposes), purge old checks or duplicate checks unless it was a tax deductible item

Receipts - we keep all receipts from purchases on the credit card until it appears on a statement. Then we shred. We also keep all big ticket item receipts until the item is removed from our home (i.e., dishwasher, fridge, TV, computer, etc.).

Medical - so far we've kept everything but that is my next purge. I would think one year would be enough unless you are still paying off a larger bill or used the information for tax purposes (then I'd keep with the taxes).

Vet - keep everything related to ongoing problems (recurrent ear infections, cuts not healing properly) and everything that verifies shots.

Pay stubs - we're keeping for 7 years (tax reasons)

Bills - one year MAX unless it verifies a deposit that you could eventually get back (our city makes us put down a $30 deposit that gets credited to the last bill after you authorize a shut off). Honestly, what good will it do to have utility bills from 2 years ago?

Then we have the misc folder that holds our marriage certificate, car titles, car insurance policy books, etc.
post #10 of 17
We also have a small, two tiered filing cabinet and only use one tier for family paperwork (the second drawer is for my writing).

Taxes (very important for us, since we have complex finances): everything for the year goes in one manilla envelope -- keep these for seven years, then shred.

Warranties, product instructions and reciepts for *major* purchases. (Cull through this occasionally to make sure everything is still in use... I've given away some appliances before and forgot to give away the instructions.)

Each of us has a "personal" file for misc items.

Pet folder has updated vax info (important for us since we moved across the border this year).

I do not keep bills or bank statements, they get shredded after they're paid/ reviewed.

We also have a car folder for registration, house folder for title (or renter's policy) and original ultilities information, and an insurance folder for insurance.

Everything is alphabatized and mostly easy to find... (Not in this post, obviously ) We also have some folders that not everyone will have -- like a "Synagogue" folder for our membership info. But those are the major categories, I think.

What I have a real problem with is reciepts -- my dh likes to keep them, I like to shred them. Right now, the ones that have purchases we *may* need to return (like from Target or the grocery store) get stuck in a junk drawer until I get sick of them overflowing and shred them... I'm thinking I need to figure out a better system for that! It is useful to keep reciepts for a little while... at least until it's decided that nothing needs to be returned. But after about two weeks or a month, it's pointless... I'd like to figure out an easy way to figure out when each reciept needed to be shredded.

HTH!
post #11 of 17
We have a two drawer filing cabinet in the house. I really only use the top drawer for paperwork. In the garage I have one box for taxes. Each year I dump the oldest and add the new one in, and one box for other paperwork. I file things all year in to the cabinet, and sometime in December, do a purge, throwing away the things we don't need to keep and then getting the rest of the stuff ready to go out to the garage.
We also have a fireproof safe that holds marriage licesne, deed, car title, passports...
post #12 of 17
lol organized.
Shoved ina drawer in a big mess...

Why would you need to save utility bills anyway?? i do, but I dont know why..
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boobiemama
Why would you need to save utility bills anyway?? i do, but I dont know why..
We save them because we take a tax deduction for using a home office (9% of our space is an office, so we count 9% of utilities as a business expense).

Another reason to have them would be if you plan to sell your place. Potential buyers sometimes ask to see utility bills to get a sense of what heating bills will be like (that's important in a place like New England).
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristyM26
Taxes only need to be kept for seven years (the amount of back time the IRS could audit),
Acutually, the IRS can go back as far as they want concerning an audit. If they think you filed a fraudulent return 80 years ago they could ask you to back it up.

We use a binder system. It is quite effective, using protector sheets to hold each vendors bills. So, for example I have a pocket for the mortgage, the phone, the utilities, the credit cards etc. You could probably scan them, but for me that takes lnger than filing everything once a month. Which is the KEY, you must make time to file at least once a month. Once you get in the habit it is easy peasy.
post #15 of 17
Quote:
Under section 6501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code (Tax Code) and section 301.6501(a)-1(a) of the Income Tax Regulations (Tax Regulations), the IRS is required to assess tax within 3 years after the tax return was filed with the IRS. Similarly, under 301.6501(a)-1(b) of the Tax Regulations no proceeding in court by the IRS without assessment for the collection of any tax can begin after the expiration of 3 years.

Under section 6501(e) of the Tax Code and section 301.6501(e)-1 of the Tax Regulations the statute of limitations is 6 years if the taxpayer omits additional gross income in excess of 25% of the amount of gross income stated in the tax return filed with the IRS.

If the tax return was prepared by the IRS under the authority of section 6020(b) of the Tax Code the statute of limitations does not apply. See section 6501(b)(3) of the Tax Code and section 301.6501(b)-1(c) of the Tax Regulations.

The statute of limitations does not apply in the case of a false tax return or fraudulent tax return filed with the IRS with intent to evade any tax. See section 6501(c)(1) of the Tax Code and section 301.6501(c)-1 of the Tax Regulations.
Bolding mine. Another words, if the IRS thinks you filed a fraudulent return, the statute of limitations doesn't apply.
post #16 of 17
: :

i have things here and there current mail thats not a bill or a bank statement goes in a pile by the router.

theres a less current pile in a drawer.

billd and bank statements (oh and student loan mail) is in a tiered organizer on the desk.

theres another pile on the desk thats semi-recent.

i guess recent is defined as this year.

older stuff is in either
a plastic portable filing cabinet (taxes, old medical stuff, car stuff, etc)
boxes

and my daughters school stuff is ALL in about 3 big cardboard boxes wich i really NEED to go through before they take over. Pre-school thrugh pre-k is at my moms and this year (kindergarten) is at our house


i like the binder idea but haven't tackled it. I'm trying to talk my mom into giving us her nice two drawer big ass wooden filing cabinet.

i sort of know where most things are but would love to have it look less of a mess.
post #17 of 17
We just went through and got rid of everything. I used to keep everything. Receipts, catalogs, bills, everything. Now....I keep NOTHING. The only things I keep are the things already mentioned, tax returns, car titles, birth cert, social security cards, warranty info...etc.

I've found that if I need a document, it's much easier just to call the other party and ask for it. For example...when I had my home business, instead of keeping every month's electric bill, I would just call them at the end of the year and ask for a summary bill for the entire year. Same with any utility that I needed. Insurance companies keep electronic files of everything, so I don't keep any of that either.

I was in the military too...and boy do they love paperwork. I kept my discharge papers and got rid of everything else. That felt really good.

I use an accordian file. I wanted it as small and compact as possible. I'm going to be switching it all to a small fireproof safe soon.

The Internet is a wonderful thing...so many things that I would need to keep otherwise, are on there. Banking, catalogs, insurance documents...I love it.
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