I was reminded recently about a promise that I made
to you. When you subscribed to this e-letter, you were
supposed to recieve a complimentary copy of the Ebook -
The Insider's Guide to Time Management
It has taken me this long to get it to you and I apologize
So - to make up for it - in this letter I included an exert
of Greg's home organization book. It's called -
How to Organize Paperwork: How Long Do You Need to
Keep Your Papers?
So, go ahead and download your
copy of - The Insider's Guide to Time Management
...then do something about the paper in your home with
Greg's advice below.
Editor and Publisher of Fayola's House Cleaning Tips
How to Organize Paperwork: How Long Do
You Need to Keep Your Papers?
Taken from The Definitive Guide to Home Organization for
By Greg Payette Copyright 2006
If you've been reading my articles or own my Guide to Home
Organization, you already know I use a three-ring binder
system, I keep every bill I've paid for about seven
years, which is what my accountant recommended. I don't
lose any time or space doing this and for me to go back
through and pull out an invoice that's been paid just
because I don't really need to keep it will take up more
Another option for keeping bills and records is to use a
scanner. This is especially useful for little receipts you
decide to keep.
The thing I like to remind people of is by putting
documents on your computer it doesnt mean its going to be
easier to access, although some filing software makes
it a little easier. Its not always any more helpful than
keeping hard copies you can grab without having to
start-up your computer.
And if you're not going to keep backup files (too many
people do not and I suggest you do) then keeping
important documents on your computer may not make
the most sense.
I use three-ring binders religiously. I just think
they,re one of the best and most underrated tools for
It's very easy to set-up a three-ring binder system to
store a lot of your important paperwork. I like them
better than filing cabinets, although like any organizing
process I tell you about, its a matter of what works best
for you and what makes organization easy.
First, one of the most important reasons for keeping
documentation is for taxes. I recommend checking with an
accountant anytime youre unsure of a specific document, but
the rule of thumb here is usually seven years.
In the US the IRS has three years to audit you from the day
you file your returns, but there are also exceptions such
as filing a false return or if you, for some reason, tried
to avoid paying taxes you actually owed.
After the tax year is over, I remove the paper from the
three ring binders and seal all the documents in 10 x 13
folders and use rubber bands to keep everything together.
Each envelope should be labeled for the tax year and for
what each envelope contains.
Another type of document people often have piled up in
their files is medical receipts and proof of coverage.
Anything beyond five years can be tossed aside and should
probably be shredded, since medical receipts often include
important personal information, like your social security
number (if youre in the US).
I use a three-ring binder for medical expenses and
insurance documents, too. You can even use one large
2 or 3-inch binder for all of your insurance paperwork,
using dividers such as medical coverage paperwork
followed by receipts for each tax year using dividers
Home insurance coverage information can also go in this
same binder and five years is also the appropriate
length of time you need to keep these papers. Some
people keep them for ten years, and its something you
should ask your specific insurance agent about.
Major Purchase Receipts and Manuals
I use one three-ring binder for my product manuals, the
invoices from the purchase of the product and any repair
Of course, you need a heavy-duty three hole punch because
theyre typically a little thicker.
Look for a three-hole punch to get through at least 30
pages of paper. A 72 sheet three-hole punch is around
$90, which isn't cheap, although I've gotten my moneys
worth from mine.
I find it the easiest to keep all of these major purchase
items together in the same binder because you may need to
reference some of the information for warranty information.
Even if you sell something later, its more valuable with
this information included.
Another option: if you don't want to use a three-ring
binder, you can use a filing crate and use it only for
manuals and the receipts. You should label it and keep it
where it's easily accessible.
I also staple the warranties right to the front of the
manual for the specific product, along with the receipt.
If you don't send in warranties because you dont want them
having your personal data, you'll miss out on any recall or
repair information coming directly from the manufacturer.
What about pay stubs?
You should keep them until the end of the year. Always
double check the numbers match and shred everything but
your final month of pay, or even your last two or three
stubs to make sure the end numbers match.
What about all the tiny little receipts?
You should tape them onto a single sheet of paper and file
the sheet with the rest of the bills paid binder under each
month (if that's the filing system youre going to use).
Another option is to have a specific envelope and write the
month on it and three-hole punch the envelope and put it in
the binder that way.
I still like the idea of taping them all to a piece of
paper and filing it that way.
Once you set-up a binder or filing system, I dont think it
takes up too much space keeping the small amount of utility
bills you get each month.
The rule of thumb is roughly three to five months, but it
doesnt take up any more space keeping them for the entire
You should keep your mortgage paperwork for up to ten
You'll often hear less but in my opinion this is real big
purchase documentation. If you're keeping paperwork for the
$48 cable bill, then I think it makes sense to store the
mortgage documents in a safe, accessible storage area.
I keep a lot of my paperwork, but the key is keeping it
neat and organized and somewhat portable, which is why
I like using three-ring binders.
Some documents should be stored safely, such as your social
security card or even life insurance documentation. A
fireproof safe is usually worth the investment, but you
might also prefer to keep your highly important
documentation in a safe deposit box at the bank.
Just keep in mind, the more you can file away neatly, the
easier it is to keep and maintain files.
And some of these items may never be of use to you again,
but it's not like a shirt where you can just get another
Important documents need to be stored and filed properly.
Discover Simple, Step by Step Strategies to Organize Your
Home and Say Goodbye to Clutter. Click here to order