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Organizing Household Paperwork

I am trying to re-organize my home - sort of downsizing everything, including paperwork. I need to know what I need to save, how long I should save it, and how to save it. I know about tax info. I'm talking about receipts, instructions, Medicare stuff, medical stuff, etc. Just about everything I've been holding on to that takes up 4 file drawers. I grew up with "save everything for 10 years" - canceled checks, bank statements, merchandise receipts for big items, etc. I just need to know how long and what do I keep. I really want to get a handle on our paperwork so that if someone asks "Where's this?" I can pull it with ease.

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Diane McIntyre from Lewiston, ID

Editors Note: Here is another helpful ThiftyFun article: Should It Stay or Should It go?

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November 19, 20070 found this helpful

Many of the ideas shared here are great; however, keeping things for 4+ months is really difficult for me due to lack of room. I've tried the breakdown Cindy S. describes and it works great but my husband's medical stuff fills a full file cabinet drawer! I have oodles of hanging folders - 4 drawers of a standard file cabinet full and each folder is full plus I have 4 storage tubs full of paperwork for only the past 7-10 years. I don't know what to pitch, what to keep, how long I need to keep it, etc. I am searching all over the Internet for ideas but am finding there are organizations that charge hefty fees to help you organize. There has got to be free information out there somewhere.

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 22, 20080 found this helpful

i have seen on various websites that you should just scan all your papers and keep the files on your computer or a flash drive. it will definitely help out having papers since I'm living in a small space but it's not very safe, is it?

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By guest (Guest Post)
September 26, 20080 found this helpful

I read Getting Things Done a few years ago, and I recently wrote a (very long) post on how I adapted a small part of David Allen's approach to get some kind of control over my household paperwork. I was convinced when I started that I'd need about four filing cabinets, but the secret is not to put your 'current' stuff and your 'archive' stuff together. That way you can have the things you need daily where you can access them easily, and the archive in a back room or on a high shelf where you don't have to worry about it because you only need to get to it once in a while. (And you'll probably end up with less of both than you imagined - check out the photo for my day-to-day filing box which holds 1-2 years worth of filing at a time.)

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