I was cleaning out my desk at the office a few weeks ago and came across my file marked “Personal Stuff” that I regularly place personal bank statements and other personal information that I’ve brought to work to review over my lunch.
In the past, I would bring the information back home and drop it into the filing cabinet at home. But just over a year ago we moved to a new house and my “office” and filing cabinet are now in the outbuilding in my back yard. The location is not a concern because the building is fully contained, but I normally don’t go out there during the long winters because it’s just too cold to go. Thus, I stared taking my personal papers to the office and filing them in my desk there.
The habit of just putting the documents in my brief case and taking them home turned into just putting them into my desk drawer in a file marked “Personal Stuff.” Now the file was so big and over stuffed I had to go through it: Mostly to prepare my taxes and partly because it’s been on my mind for a while now.
I set out sorting the documents into specific piles:
- XYZ Bank Statements
- XYZ MasterCard Statements
- Big Brokerage Firm Statements
- Life Insurance Policies
- House Insurance Policies
- Car Insurance Polices
- Car Repairs
- Cellular Phone
- Electric Bills
- Water Bills
- Health Insurance
- Tax Receipts
- 2007 Taxes
- 2006 Taxes
- 2005 Taxes
- 2004 Taxes
- 2003 Taxes
- 2002 Taxes
- 2001 Taxes
Each pile corresponded to a specific file and I placed each into my filing system. This is the system I’ve used for years and it works well for me. But for the past year I’ve had to sift through my fat file of “personal stuff” to find things. It had become a habit to simply place something in the file. But now it’s really easy to just place what I need into the proper file and if I need to find something it is readily available.
Despite my year of disorganization I firmly believe that proper record keeping helps you stay organized and aids you in preparing and maintaining your personal budget. You simply know what documents you need and where they are. They are easily accessible and complete.
The filing system you use should also be designed to work well with your personal budgeting software such as Quicken.
What kind of files to you keep? Are you organized?