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Getting Rid of Paper Clutter

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Doing away with paper clutter is so easy; check out our handy hints and tips!

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Getting rid of clutter makes your life a little easier. Doing away with paper clutter is so easy; check out our handy hints and tips!

Setting up a File System

  • No place to organize important documents? Use a file cabinet.
  • Gather up all the essential papers, such as, bills, checking accounts, school records, recipes, etc.
  • Then begin sorting into stacks or categories. Each stack becomes a separate file.
  • Next, file according to usage. Files you seldom use (old tax returns, insurance policies) put towards the back. And files you use often (checking account bills) should be located towards the front.
  • Make tabs for the categories, such as, household repairs, vacation, and medical documents.
  • Make a file index-an alphabetical list of all your file headings-and update it every few months.

Hint: Keep a few extra folders at the back of your file cabinet so that it will be easy to start a new file when needed.

What Can Safely Be Thrown Away

  • Expired insurance (with no possibility of a claim)
  • Non-tax-related bank statements more than three years old.
  • Records for items you no longer own (boat, car).
  • Pay stubs going back more than five years.

Hint: If you are not sure about whether you should save a particular item, consult your accountant or lawyer first.

What to Save For Awhile or Forever

  • Copies of bank statements that substantiate tax deductions or major purchases.
  • Purchase and sale documents (including form 2119) for every home you’ve owned.
  • Credit card records (keep for six years)
  • Health records
  • Contracts (keep for seven years past the expiration date)
  • Loan papers (keep for three years after final payment)

Hint: Get a wastebasket. If you generate a lot of paper, get two. If you are not using something, get rid of it!

Clutter control: Next time you add to your wardrobe, discard something.

Reader Suggestions

 Paperless Filing Folder: Evernote.com “I think of evernote.com as my own online filing cabinet. As I’m trolling the Web, I can take a screen shot of an intriguing article or image and file it by category in folders I’ve set up on Evernote. That way, when I’m looking for, say, my cache of vacation destination ideas (hey, a girl can dream), they’re all in one place. I can also share folders with friends and coworkers to track what they find interesting.” - Carol Singer

 

About The Author

Jennifer Keating

Jennifer is the Associate Digital Editor at The Old Farmer’s Almanac. She is an active equestrian and spends much of her free time at the barn. When she’s not riding, she loves caring for her collection of house plants, baking, and playing in her gardens. Read More from Jennifer Keating

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