How to Create an Archival System so You Can Keep Your Every Day Files Under Control
How are Your Files Looking?
Now that we’ve hit February and taxes are on the mind, it’s time to take a hard look at your current filing system. How does it look? Is it out of control? If so, you may benefit from creating a file archival system.
File Archival Systems allow you to keep important documents that you must retain but don’t need regular access to. This allows you to keep your regular filing system more streamlined and easier to maintain, with fewer files in the mix.
How do you know if an archival system would help you? Ask yourself a few questions:
Do you have a hard time finding the documents you need or finding room to file new ones?
Did a major life event such as a divorce or death in the family result in a lot of extra paperwork that you need to keep?
Do you want to keep all of your tax documents together, but don’t have or want to use space in your filing cabinet?
If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, read on!
Tips to Get Started
When pulling and organizing documents for an archival system, separate those that must be kept forever, and those that have a date in which they can be destroyed. An example of a file that could be destroyed would be your tax returns. IRS publication 552 is a great resource for determining how long you must retain certain personal records.
Choose your container wisely. If you must store your files in a garage, attic or basement make sure to store in plastic, not cardboard. Extreme temperatures and unexpected pests can wreak havoc on cardboard. Plastic banker’s boxes are low cost and easy to find at any office supply store. If you have the luxury of storing the files in a more protected area, use sturdy cardboard boxes with lids and handles.
Be specific and consistent when labeling. If and when you need to retrieve your archived files, you will be happy you didn’t have to dig through every file folder or box to find what you need. For documents that can be destroyed, include the destruction date on the label.To optimize your everyday file and archival storage space, purge documents that are no longer needed. Adapted from Eliminate Chaos: The 10 – Step Process to Organize Your Home & Life by Laura Leist, below are examples of documents you can eliminate immediately from your filing system:
Receipts for groceries, clothing you aren’t returning, and meals (Note, this is assuming you don’t need them for business reasons)
Invitations to events you won’t attend
ATM and Bank deposit receipts (after they have been recorded)
Recipes you haven’t tried in a year
If the thought of archiving your files or setting up a new filing system is overwhelming or you don’t know where to start, Eliminate Chaos can help you in person or virtually to help you create a system that suits your needs.
TaxCaster by TurboTax – Free tax refund calculator
https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/calculators/taxcaster/ Use TaxCaster online or on your Apple or Android mobile device. The TaxCaster App gives you a quick read on your taxes before you prepare your tax return, allowing you to adjust your paycheck withholdings so you take home more money, or plan ahead so you pay less tax. It's easy. Just enter some basic info and watch your refund add up. TaxCaster uses the same tax calculator found in TurboTax.
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The take away: The more work you've done up front to identify your space and needs, inventory and group similar items together, the easier it is to find a solution; even when it's not one that may readily come to mind!
How can you think "outside and inside" the box on your next organizing project?
"A big thanks to Julie and Terri for helping us to clear our clutter from our workshop and craft area in an effective, easy, non-judgmental way. My husband was blown away by the transformation, and we are liberated by the extra space and less "stuff". Thank you again, EC!" -Joyce and Marshall Rafferty - Seattle, WA .
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