So how did last night go? Did you go thru all those papers laying around? Did you make your two piles? I surely hope so….

We will be concentrating on dividing and conquering today!

The simplest and lowest maintenance way to file is to divide your files by person. What this means is that if you have 4 people living in your house, you should have 4 main sections.

This way, you never have to “decide” where to file that receipt for school rings, senior pics….lol

Most sections will have 4 main subsections: important documents, medical, school, receipts and bills. Now before you go labeling folders-and making this project take more thought than needed….theres a small “shortcut” I need to tell you about.

If you get a few boxes (hint: you have 4 family members=4 boxes) and just label each box with your family members’ name – you can do the sorting within subsections later.

Items such as your mortgage/rent, utilities should get their own section apart from these files.

Now, make sure you have some space for spreading out!

If you have a filing cabinet, you may think you are on top of things….however, if you havent purged thru it in a couple of years, NOW IS THE TIME!

Go thru each and every file…


Many people are confused when it comes to records retention. If you are unsure about receipts, please check the IRS website for retention requirements. I personally choose to keep all tax returns, but it is not necessary.

Cancelled checks may also be shredded (these are listed on your bank statement) so keeping them just takes up important space.

If you have paid off bills in the past (and I hope you have) there is no need to keep an entire file for that old debt. Make a PAID IN FULL file and place the letter received by the company stating you paid that bill off. If you have checked your credit report and its listed as paid in full there (make sure its listed on all 3 credit reports), then you can shred that letter.

Old utility bills also use up valuable space. Once you receive your current bill with your last payment, you can shred the older statements.

Some of us love to save our check stubs! Seriously, why? If you are like someone who will go unmentioned….you may have an entire drawer filled with stubs from your first jobs up to and including your current job. If you save your prior tax returns, this is unnecessary. Once you receive a current W-2, compare it with the last check stub of the year….if it all matches, toss the stubs. If it doesnt match, contact your employer.

NOTE: Older check stubs may include your SSN. If any of your stubs contain personal information, make sure you shred them.


Some of you may be thinking….why should I take a Saturday to purge and organize? Why should I be doing this when I could be kicking back waiting for the football game to come on?

Well, unless you are going out – or hosting a party- why CANT you sort while watching the game? If you are worried about the noise from the shredder, only shred during commercials!

Tomorrow we will start on the actual filing system. I promise you that my filing system will make sense to you and is so low maintenance that you will not have a problem figuring out what to do with all of your Lingering Paperwork!