New Year’s Resolution: Organize Your Papers
If I asked you where your life insurance policy is, would you know? Would your family know? January is a time of year when you are stuck inside anyway. It’s a great time to organize all of your papers. If the task feels daunting, then pledge to yourself to work on your the task 15 minutes per day. When 15 minutes is up, stop working and continue the following day. Your goal is two fold: 1. Eliminate all unnecessary papers altogether and 2. put your important papers all in one place. Furthermore, the papers you keep should be categorized as follows: 1. Important documents like insurance, passports, wills etc. and 2. interesting items that you want to save for a later time like recipes and receipts.
Keep Your Papers Organized in a File Box or Cabinet
For important papers, make a file folder for each one. You should have a folder for insurance policies, one for tax returns, papers relating to your home like mortgages, deeds etc. You will also want a folder for bills to be paid. All the owner’s manuals for major appliances in your home should be kept in one folder. Personal things like birth certificates, marriage certificates, passports and the like should probably be kept in a safety deposit box at your bank. The annual rent on the box will probably run around $25 to $40 and is well worth the cost.
Other items, like recipes, ideas for decorating from your favorite magazines should be kept in files as well. Don’t save the entire magazine, just keep the part you are interested in. If you still have photos, you either want to put them into albums or scan them into your computer.
And remember, take all the paper you eliminate from your files and recycle it, but be sure to shred anything that has your personal information on it. At 15 minutes per day you should be all done in a week or so!
Editor’s Note: We originally published this article in January 2015. We have updated it for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.