Getting Out From Under All That Paper Part II

Part two of cleaning up your papers.

Last time I talked about keeping important papers.  The one you want to keep forever.  Now on to the ones you don’t need to keep or only need to keep for a short period of time.  With technology being so much a part of our everyday life, the more we can embrace it, the easier we can make organizing our home and offices. If you can scan any paperwork and file it on your computer do that.  Just make sure you are backing up the computer.  If your bank offers to send your statements online, do that and then save them as PDF’s to a folder.  It’s important you organize your computer files correctly also.  Don’t just file everything in “My Documents”.  Make folders for each category. Most bills can be paid online and statements can be accessed online, so you don’t need to keep the statement unless there is a dispute with the bill.  Then keep the paperwork until the dispute is resolved. Credit card bills should be kept if you have items on there that you are deducting on your taxes.  The bill should be filed with your tax information as backup in case you are audited.  You also want to keep credit card bills for items that are under warranty.  Staple a copy of the bill and receipt to the warranty and file all the papers together in a “warranties” file.   Once the warranty has expired you can toss the whole packet. Keep your current year pay-stubs. Once you receive your W-2 form and check that it’s correct, shred the stubs.  Same for insurance documents, keep the current year’s policies, shred them when you receive the new one. You don’t need to keep any receipts unless you are using them for tax deduction back up or if you think you may return a purchase.  If you are going to return something, tape the receipt to the item and put it in your car, the next time you are near where you bought it, you’ll have it with you. Shred any documents that have account numbers or social security numbers.  No matter what you keep, it’s always important how you keep it.  Have some sort of system in place that works for you so that when you are looking for something, you’ll know where to look for it.

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Carol Youngclaus February 22, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Good blog, Anne. By the way, there are specialty scanners for receipts, important papers and business cards. They're a little pricey, but well worth it. The one I use is by the Neat Company; the scanned receipts are accepted by the IRS and the software sorts it all for you by category. Just be careful that it "reads" the figures correctly in the database because the optical scanner sometimes doesn't quite get it right. I'd be lost without my Neat Receipts scanner, especially at tax time! Now if only I could find a heavy-duty household shredder that wouldn't self-destruct, I'd be all set.
Anne Lucas February 23, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Excellent points Carol. I have recommended the Neat Receipt scanners to many clients. I love the idea of scanning as much as possible. Eliminate any paper you can!


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