If you’re like most people, you’ve got a pile for this and a pile for that. Probably because you don’t have anywhere to file your piles. As you get ready for another tax season, it’s the perfect time to finally get a filing system in place. Just follow this “recipe” for peace of mind.
To get started you’ll need some filing gear: manila (or colored) folders, hanging files, labels, sticky notes, and maybe a magic marker or two.
Start by creating a separate hanging file folder with a label for each of the major categories below.
|o Bank Statements||o Military Documents|
|o Credit Card Statements||o Mortgage Documents|
|o Credit Score Reports||o Personal Investment Statements|
|o Home Improvements||o Product Service Manuals|
|o Insurance Statements & Policies||o Property Tax Statements|
|o Legal Documents||o Retirement Statements|
|o Loan Statements||o Social Security Benefit Statements|
|o Medical/Pharmacy Receipts||o Tax Returns|
|o Miscellaneous Bills||o Vehicles|
|o Miscellaneous Receipts|
Once you’ve labeled your hanging file folders with these categories and any others you think are important, it’s time to create subcategories using the manila folders. Each manila folder will contain specific information within each major category.
In this hanging file, you’ll want to file statements in folders with labels like the following:
In this hanging file, you’ll want a separate folder for each of the three credit agencies:
In this hanging file, you’ll want to save all receipts that would be helpful for tax purposes should you ever sell your home. You could save them by year or by project, as follows:
In this hanging file, you’ll want a folder for each type of policy; if this hanging file gets too large, you may have to create a separate hanging file:
In this hanging file, you’ll want to keep COPIES of your legal documents. The originals should be kept in a safe deposit box at your bank. Your attorney also may retain copies of these documents, which is also a good idea.
In this hanging file, you’ll want to have a file for each loan you have except your mortgage, as follows:
In this hanging file, you’ll want files for your receipts that may be helpful for tax purposes.
In this hanging file, you’ll want a file for each bill. You may want to add a second hanging file to separate monthly bills from quarterly and annual bills.
In this hanging file, you might want a folder for each month with which to file every-day receipts, like for gas, clothing, groceries, and so on. If you need to make a return, you can easily find the receipt, which you’ll need in most cases.
In this hanging file, you’ll want a folder for your important military records:
In this hanging file, you’ll want to include all applications, contracts, financials, and statements associated with your home and mortgage company (that big folder of documents you received when you closed on your home).
In this hanging file, you’ll want a folder for monthly, quarterly and annual statements. You may want a folder for trade confirmations. If you have investments at different institutions, you may want a separate hanging file(s) labeled by institution:
In this hanging file, you’ll want a folder for your most important product manuals (you may not need to retain the manual for your computer mouse, for example). Today nearly any manual you need can be found online and can be downloaded as a pdf file. This is more efficient than having the paper copies. Keeping the original manuals may be more convenient but may require more than one hanging file.
In this hanging file, you’ll want a folder for each retirement account as follows:
In this hanging file, you’ll just need one folder for your benefit statements, which you either receive automatically or have to request depending on your age.
You’ll want a hanging file for each tax year. You need to retain your tax returns for seven years, so you’ll purge the oldest file once you’ve filed the current year tax return. Retain all supporting documents with your returns; you’ll need them should you ever be audited.
In this hanging file, you’ll want a folder for each car or other vehicle you may own. Retain all pertinent documents: