Organize Your Personal Papers

 

It is virtually impossible to over-stress the importance of keeping your personal documentation organized. Not only do you want to be able to find paperwork that you might need later on, you are also going to want to know where your paperwork is so that your information does not fall into the hands of the people that you would never trust with it.

The best way to take care of your personal paperwork is to file it using some kind of, well, filing system. Unfortunately, before you can actually take advantage of any system to file your paperwork, you need to sit down and go through and separate that paperwork. This process of separating the paperwork is the actual organization process.

There are several different ways to organize paperwork, and in the final analysis this is going to be a matter of personal taste. Personally, I would say that you go with the following method for separating your information in to different categories.

  • Personal Information. This category is pretty self explanatory, since this is the pile for all of the paperwork that pertains directly to you. In this pile you are going to need to put anything that pertains to you (or others in your family) directly. Such information as Social Security cards, birth certificates, medical information, immunization records, passports or IDs, and school information should all go into this pile.
  • Automobile Information. Place in this category any and all information that applies to your vehicles. Gather together your title, insurance policy, and registration into one place and make a copy of all this information.
  • Financial Information. In this file should go a copy of all your pay stubs, bills, bank statements, investment portfolio, etc. By doing this you are going to be able to have at hand all aspects of your current financial status. You would be surprised at just how often you are going to need different portions of this information throughout the year.
  • Tax Information. You really should keep all tax information for the past seven years. The IRS can only go back that far, and if you ever have to go through an audit, you'll have the information on hand. Basically, you want to keep your tax returns, W-2's, interest statements and so on. In short, you should keep everything that you use when filing your taxes, not just your tax returns.
  • Home Information. Into your home information pile you should put anything that pertains to your home, obviously. What may not be obvious is that you should put in here literally anything that deals with your home. This means that not only do you place your rental or mortgage agreements, but also any home insurance policies, warranty information, owners manuals and so forth.

While you are sorting through your information, keep in mind that you are also going to need to set up a filing system. As you are doing that, just think about how each of the informational topics and materials listed above are ready made topics, and sub-topics.

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