Surviving the Paper Avalanche

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:

  1. Purchase a safe. You’ll experience inner peace knowing important documents such as birth certificates, savings bonds, negatives and passports are in safe keeping.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 to get exact mileage.
  5. 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.

This article was created by the team at Organized Audrey. This material may be reprinted or reposted, but please credit the author and our website:

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