The Amazing Filing Cabinet
It's a device that's been around the block a few times, but it's still so darn handy. If you don't have a filing cabinet, or some type of filing system, you are probably swimming in piles of random paper.
Quick! You're applying for new insurance and want to know if you're getting a better deal. Collect all your old insurance bills from the last year so you can compare. Go ahead, I'll wait. Did you find them? How long did it take you? Okay, now you need to apply for a loan and must present your tax returns from the last three years? Do you know where to find them?
|Office supply stores sells inexpensive plastic boxes, some with wheels on the bottom, which make great filing cabinets.|
With a proper, maintained filing system, any piece of paper can be found in a minute or less. From your child's shot records to your own birth certificate, our papers are important and should be treated with a certain amount of respect, not wadded up in a laundry basket in the garage!
The Filing Cabinet should be centrally located, right next to where you pay bills and open your mail. Make it ridiculously easy to file, otherwise, it won't happen. It doesn't need to be big. Two drawers should be sufficient for most families. Buy yourself a big box of hanging folders, a big box of manilla folders, and let's get to work.
How to Set up a Filing Cabinet
Monthly Expense Files
The most important parts of a Filing Cabinet are your monthly expense files. At the beginning of each year, take 12 manilla folders and label them with the months of the year. When you are done paying bills in January, all the paperwork from January's bills, along with receipts from the month, go in your January folder. They should all be in the top drawer of your filing cabinet, easy to reach. Nothing will help you organize your finances quicker than the monthly expense folders.
|Need a receipt to return an item? Just look in your Monthly Expense File in the month it was purchased.|
At the end of the year, all the folders will go in the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet. Mark 12 new folders for the new year.
Pay bills online? If you print your receipts, they should go into your filing cabinet. If you don't print your receipts, make sure you back up your information. That way, if you need to prove you paid your car loan in 2008, you can find the information you need and not rely on someone else's records.
Basically, every business or company that you deal with, (any exchange of money or service), needs their own manilla file. You may start with these:
- Gas Company
- Water & Sewer
- Car Loan
- Health Insurance
- Credit Card
In each of these files, you will put the basic company information and any letters or non-billing transactions. (Billing paperwork will go in the Monthly Expense Files). So anytime you get a letter from your health insurance company, (probably upping your deductible), that letter will go straight into the Health Insurance File. Always try to file the same way, i.e., filing "in front" or "in back" of the papers that are already there. That way, your documents stay in chronological order.
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