Would it surprise you to learn that according to recent statistics, 90% of information is stored on paper, but we use only 20% of the paper we keep? At times it may seem as if there’s an avalanche of paper coming into your home and/or office – you may actually feel immobilized by it. Paper continues to be my clients’ #1 obstacle to overcoming disorganization.
5 Easy Things you can do to begin organizing your personal papers:
- Purchase a safe. You’ll experience inner peace knowing important documents such as birth certificates, savings bonds, negatives and passports are in safe keeping.
- In hopes that you already have a filing system, make a file that reads “Current Tax Documents”. Throughout the year, this will be a “home” for such items as donation receipts, 1099’s and property tax receipts. When the end of the year arrives, you’ll already have many items needed to complete your tax returns.
- Purchase a shredder. With identity theft on the rise, you should shred any piece of mail that contains account numbers, social security numbers and other important information.
- If you need to keep track of mileage for incometax reasons, keep a small notebook handy in your vehicle to record date and place traveled. Use www.MapQuest.com to get exact mileage.
- Sort and purge existing files. Be ruthless when it comes to items you no longer need. Storage space is a hot commodity these days and your filing cabinets are just as valuable as a shelving unit.
Here are some general guidelines in sorting and purging:
- Receipts: Keep all receipts used in filing your incometax returns.
- Cancelled checks and bank statements: Check with your tax accountant, but most will agree that keeping the past five years’ of statements is sufficient for personal use. Seven years for businesses.
- IncomeTax Returns: Keep ALL tax returns. Keep supporting documentation for the past five years.
- Utility & Phone bills: Check with your suppliers, but my local phone and utility companies will provide information on past bills if I need it.