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how to organize paperwork

Ah, the dreaded paper chase.

Paperwork. Yes, the record keeping race is on at home, too.

But you can win the marathon if you're armed with these home office organization techniques. No coach required.

Here's how to organize paperwork at home so it's easy to find when you need it - especially at tax time.

how to organize paperwork that's essential to keep.

Why bother record keeping records at all? Well, there's the little consideration of being prepared for tax time, for starters.

If the Internal Revenue Service has a question about an item on your tax return, be prepared to answer it.

Good records will help you identify income sources if your family receives money or property from a variety of sources, such as a family trust.

Organizing expenses will help you identify which expenses you might be able to claim as a deduction.

Property records have important details like the original cost, and they verify any improvements you have made.

getting organized for the new year? new files.

As a general rule, get a jump on the paper clutter by beginning new folders each year and archiving the past year's folders.

For most families, there are four types of paperwork to be culled and considered. (Make that five if you have a home business.)

You'll need to create a separate filing system or area for each. It can be as simple as assigning each paperwork type its own unique color.

You could use green for financial, for example, and red for household. Here are the three major categories to be conquered, and how to organize them.

how to organize home-related receipts.

  • Car maintenance records. Keep a car service log on automobile maintenance. Use this to hold permits, service receipts, etc. You can also find vehicle maintenance software online to help ease paper piles.
  • Home maintenance records. With maintenance and preventive maintenance records, you'll know the last time you serviced the air conditioner or had the heating vents vacuumed.
  • Home repairs file. This includes the names and numbers of repair people, contractors, window washers, etc.
  • Inventory of household goods. This is for insurance purposes. A copy should go in a safe deposit box.
  • Owners manuals. This file includes directions and receipts.

how to organize family papers.

  • Medical and dental records and receipts. Medical records storage is essential. File these by family member. Ditto for related receipts.
  • School records. File these by family member.

how to organize receipts and credit card statements.

  • Bank and credit card statement folders. Easy, right?
  • Credit card list. Compile a full list of the names and numbers of each credit card in the family. Include the toll-free numbers for reporting loss or theft of said cards.
  • Investment folders. In these folders, store information on stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Your records should show the purchase price, sales price, and commissions. They may also show any reinvested dividends, stock splits and dividends, load charges, and original issue discount.
  • Life insurance policies folder. Store life insurance papers here, or you can put these important papers in your safe deposit box or strongbox.
  • Loan and mortgage folder. File these papers by bank or lending institution name or simply under "Mortgage".
  • Pay stub folder or envelope. Each pay period, stash your stub.

Ready to get started? Check out the Clean Organized Home Store for the supplies, organizers, and products needed to get started organizing paperwork.

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About the Author

Tara Aronson

Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.