Author Topic: Minimalist Paperwork organization  (Read 5233 times)

LadyStache in Baja

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Minimalist Paperwork organization
« on: August 26, 2015, 10:29:59 AM »
Hi All!

I'm really terrible at paperwork.  I hate it. 

I love minimalism and keeping only the essential stuff in my house. 

So, I'm looking for a minimalist solution to organizing paperwork.  What do you guys do that works for you?  What is the bare minimum of what I absolutely have to have?  And how should I organize it so that it's easy to get to when I need it, but doesn't take up a whole lot of space?

Thank you!


Lis

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Re: Minimalist Paperwork organization
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2015, 11:29:05 AM »
What kind of paperwork are you talking about?

Bills and such is all electronic for me. I have calendar reminders if I need them, but I set it up so I pay most bills together once a month. Between that and Mint reminding me, I haven't missed a payment on anything yet.

Most receipts go straight to the garbage unless I'm sure I'll need to for proof of something.

I do have a paper file of my medical stuff and medical stuff for my pets, but that's just in the drawer of my desk.

Everything else is just saved electronically. I don't have a heck of a lot, but super important things that yo're supposed to retain for a certain number of years (like taxes) is saved in two places - my desk top, and either in the cloud or on my work drive.

If you can manage everything on a computer, there are two options - a personal little scanner might run you between $50-$150 (I haven't checked ebay though). There are also plenty of apps where you can take a picture of your document on your and it will save as a pdf.

LadyStache in Baja

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Re: Minimalist Paperwork organization
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2015, 11:35:03 AM »
I guess I'm asking two questions:
1. What should I be filing?
2. How should I file it?

All I really have right now are birth certificates and vaccination records.

What do I need to save for tax purposes?  What do I need to save at all?!

I love the idea of just storing it in the cloud.  So I don't need originals? 

Axecleaver

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Re: Minimalist Paperwork organization
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2015, 12:53:34 PM »
This question is near and dear to my heart. We just sold our home, and during that process discovered boxes upon boxes of old paperwork. Some of these boxes went back to when I moved out of my home at 18 after high school. Most of what we found were old bills that we didn't need anymore. Some junk mail (from the halcyon pre-mortgage crash days of 10 credit card offers a day). I saved birth certificates, vaccination records, health records, investment records, tax returns, tax support documentation, and business records (my LLC articles of incorporation, for example). Some of these I digitized and stored, most I kept in paper form.

For taxes, I believe the rule is that you need to be prepared for an audit for up to seven years. Someone else more familiar with audit requirements may be able to shed more light on that. You need to save receipts that document your return. This is pretty easy if you're a W2 person, a little more complicated if you claim moving expenses or unreimbursed work expenses. In my case, it's fairly substantial as I have large offsets for business travel as an independent consultant. I save these original receipts for seven years and also scan them for safekeeping.

El Marinero

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Re: Minimalist Paperwork organization
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2015, 02:59:35 PM »
For taxes, I believe the rule is that you need to be prepared for an audit for up to seven years.

The IRS has three years from the date the return is filed to audit, unless there is "substantial understatement of income" in which case they get six years to go after you.

However, you may need much older records to support your return, such as purchase record for a home or receipts for home improvements to document the cost basis for capital gains.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Minimalist Paperwork organization
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2015, 07:07:01 PM »
Following, because I need to learn this stuff to Adult. I just keep most things, take pictures of a lot of stuff, and pray I can find it if I need it.

....I need a better system.

LadyStache in Baja

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Re: Minimalist Paperwork organization
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2015, 08:12:27 PM »
For taxes, I believe the rule is that you need to be prepared for an audit for up to seven years.

The IRS has three years from the date the return is filed to audit, unless there is "substantial understatement of income" in which case they get six years to go after you.


ok, yes, this is getting somewhere.  I definitely thought it was 7, good to know its only 3 as long as i actually report my income. 

Most of my statements are online.  Does that mean I should print them out and put them in a box, or will they still be accessible online in case of an audit 3 years down the road?


Kaikou

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Thinkum

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Re: Minimalist Paperwork organization
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2015, 09:12:42 PM »
I just bought a small plastic file box and some file folders. Put some labels and keep hard copies of stuff like taxes, birth certificates, vaccinations, medical bills, etc. Everything else is online and backed up on an external HD. I am a total minimalist and cannot stand having paperwork that is unorganized.

Kroaler

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Re: Minimalist Paperwork organization
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2015, 09:31:01 PM »
Ido the same thing. Got one of those walk mart plastic file boxes.    However if my house ever burns down while Im away, I'm in for a world of hurt. Birth certificates, social security cards, tax returns, everything really......     Now that I think about it, seems like a liability that I should make electronic backups of.....

Thinkum

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Re: Minimalist Paperwork organization
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2015, 09:37:15 PM »
I've considered that or even a fire-proof box since hard copies are always needed with birth certs.

Sailor Sam

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Re: Minimalist Paperwork organization
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2015, 10:25:45 PM »
This is well timed. I just finished winnowing and organizing my paper trail. I also had a plastic filing box. Bought it about 10 years ago. Eventually the handle cracked off, but it's going strong otherwise.

I'd suggest reading this: http://www.theplacewithnoname.com/blogs/klessons/p/0006.html. It's blog written by a guy who bugged out in front of Hurricane Katrina. It has a very handy section on getting your documentation in order.

Here's my take. I spent some time helping people enroll in the armed forces, and these are the vital documents I dealt in:
- Birth Certficate;
- Vaccination records;
- Medical results (not bills, just test results);
- Passport;
- Social Security Card;
- Driver's License;
- Credit & Debit cards;
- Other credentials (USCG, TWIC, CAC, Pilot's License, greencard, visa. Anything that allows you to operate something, or access some place. The kind of stuff that makes you go white and shaky if it dissapears);

Store the originals in the magic box, except the licence & bank cards obviously. Just store hard photo copies of those. Second, make a digital scan of each document, and store on a thumb drive somewhere safe that is also outside of your house. If you have any sort of emergency go-bag, store hard copies in there as well. Pro tip, put them in a ziploc bag.

Taxes. Not quite as educated on this, but I keep a hard copy of everything Turbo Tax produces. A digital copy goes on the thumb drive.

Important work documents follow the same system as vital documents. A hard copy in the box. Scanned copies on the thumbdrive. To me, important means someone might ask for it at some point. So my security clearance paper work gets filed, but the certificate that I participated in EEOC gets tossed real damn fast.

Some people say to make scans of all the membership cards, etc you keep in you wallet. I couldn't be bothered.

Yowzah, long post. I hope this helped, and wasn't just me spewing over the internet. I really recommend the site.     



Goldielocks

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Re: Minimalist Paperwork organization
« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2015, 01:19:02 AM »
Don't forget

Will
Power of attorney
List of investments, acct numbers and where they are
Home and real estate lease
Stock certificates if you have them
House surveys (legal), home plans, structural engineer ever report
Rental contract or lease
Any sale or contract with a signature, IOUs

I like paper copies for anything to keep over 3 yrs.

Poof of vehicle maintenance is nice. But scanned copies can work for resale
Warranty paperwork you were given.

LadyStache in Baja

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Re: Minimalist Paperwork organization
« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2015, 10:51:54 AM »
Great stuff friends!!  Thank you!