Get new systems for filing
As another tax season rolls around, you might start to notice that your filing system is not up to snuff. Take some time this weekend to put some systems for filing in place.
A file cabinet or at least a file box is necessary. It really depends upon how much paper you need to file.
This might seem like common sense, but many people don’t know or follow the rules of filing. A traditional filing system goes alphabetically by last name or company name but many people prefer placing files by how frequently they are used. The more you access a file, the closer to the front of the drawer for maximum efficiency. It’s a personal choice.
If you have a file for your bank statements, they can be filed under the name of your bank. If you have accounts at multiple banks and you want to keep everything together, you might want to keep them under the heading of “bank statements.” File in a logical way so you can find the papers when you need them.
One way to stay on top of your bills and other things that need attention is to create a tickler file. It’s easy to set up and once the system is in place, it’s easy to keep it going. If you are paying bills online, you can make a digital calendar which will serve the same purpose. The tickler file works better for those who still use analog methods, getting bills in the mail and paying by check through the mail.
Make a file folder for each month of the year. Then make 31 numbered files for each day of the month. You only need one set of numbered files that will be used for the current month.
You can put bills in the tickler file when you receive them. File them under the date you want to pay them. So, for example, if you received a Visa bill that is due on the 20th, you might put it on the 13th so you can mail it in time to arrive by the 20th. The way the mail has been inconsistent lately, you might want to give them even more time.
At the beginning of each month you move the numbered files into the current month. You can use the file for bills, remembering birthdays and anniversaries.
Getting rid of old filesYou only need to save tax papers for seven years. After that, you can purge. If you have a shredder, shred anything that has your personal information on it before recycling. If you don’t have a shredder, there are places you can go for shredding.
There is probably a lot of paperwork that is not tax-related that you don’t need to save. You can always scan it or take a photo with your cell phone to save the information.
Get digitalYou can request a lot of bills to be sent digitally these days. Bank statements can be emailed and downloaded as well. This can greatly reduce your paper clutter and the need for a file cabinet.
Paying bills online is easy for most people and your information is secure. Each company has step by step directions on how to pay them online.
Some people will scan every bill they receive and then shred them in order to avoid having to file or save the printed paper. Then, you only need a small file for your tax paperwork (which many companies send digitally these days).
However you choose to file your paperwork, digitally or physically, it should be done in an organized way. Try to file away bills as soon as you receive them to avoid accumulating paper piles. As always, I am here if you need my help. Contact me if you are feeling overwhelmed.