Every work day we look at tons of paperwork, the last thing we want to do is go home and look at more. The mail comes in, the mail goes out — but where does all those papers go?
Everyone and every office store have a unique system to help you organize your home office, but does it make sense?
The last thing anyone wants to think about is — if something should happen to me will my next of kin or best friend find the necessary papers? What are necessary papers? Your Will, Insurance (life, health, and home) documents, car title, land deed, finance statements, safe deposit box, bills, birth certificate, marriage certificate, military discharge documents, doctor and dentist information, outsourced storage unit, etc. are all your necessary documents.
You can’t have all this information buried in a computer file — no one will find it! But you also want to protect your information from identity theft.
Banking institutions want to go green – paperless…it saves time, money and space. The IRS prefers everyone to keep their records for 7-years. Credit card companies really don’t care how long you keep their records — they prefer you destroy old records (this way if there’s a dispute you don’t have a copy).
Use a Safe Deposit Box at you bank for all major documents (will, marriage license, divorce, birth certificates, death certificates, land deeds, all insurance documents, and military discharge documents), a list of all important people in your life: doctor, dentist, lawyer, immediate family members and their contact information, a list of all current bills with their customer service numbers and account numbers.
Credit Card Files: Keep these for 6-months to ensure you’re not being charge any unnecessary expenses. Once you make a final payment — keep that final statement for 1-year. I’ve seen companies try to reinstate accounts that have been closed for months with interest charges — you will need your old account number, date the account was closed, how you closed it (check, debit card, etc.), who you spoke with, etc. if the need arises.
IRS Files: When filing tax documents, make sure you keep not only a copy of all the documents you submitted to the IRS but also the booklets you used as a reference when you filed. Each year the tax laws change. If you ever face the IRS in an audit — your reference materials will prove you right at the time you filed.
Last but not least: Make sure your cell phone has an Emergency Contact listed. Your Emergency Contact should be someone you sincerely trust without a doubt!! And equally importantly they know you! If you’re married or single — you have to know that whomever you choose will step up and make the decisions for you that you would make for yourself until you are back on your feet.
How does all of this lead to Home Files? Keep them simple. Tabs are easy to read. Make them work for you — but most of all, if someone had to step in for you would they understand how to pay your next bill for you? If not, it’s too complicated.
We need to enjoy life more! Not spend it on trying to figure out our files.