Bills and statements and files, oh my!

It’s tax prep time which, for a lot of people, means digging through stacks of unorganized papers stuffed into different drawers throughout the house.  If this is you – try to turn this dreadful chore into a productive organization project. Believe it or not, it won’t take you that much extra time, and it will make your life a LOT easier.

And it’s not that complicated. Here’s an easy 4-step process to organize your papers:

  • Gather all of your papers together into one big pile. Seriously. Grab an empty bankers box, a reusable shopping bag, even a laundry basket, whatever you have, and go around the house collecting all of your piles.
  • Sort your papers into four simple categories:
    1. Shred
    2. Throw away
    3. Keep for files
    4. Take immediate action (put all of your tax-related documents in this pile!)

Check out the great Real Simple article, “5 Steps to Simpler Record-Keeping” to learn more about what you should be keeping and for how long

  • After your throw away and shred all of the papers you no longer need, deal with your Action items. Go ahead and separate out your tax-related documents.

You can find free tax document checklists online – H&R Block even has a free simple survey you can take that, depending on your answers, tells you exactly which documents you’ll need to collect.

  • Figure out the right kind of system for keeping your long-term documents. Whether this is a paper accordian file, manilla file folders in a filing cabinet, folders in a drawer, etc. – Make sure you clearly label each of your categorical files (i.e. credit card statements, health records, utilities, receipts, charitable contributions, etc.)
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