Author Topic: What do you file? How do you sort it?  (Read 3609 times)

Koreth

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What do you file? How do you sort it?
« on: October 12, 2015, 12:43:10 PM »
I'm  looking at revamping my filing system, but I'm not sure how to  go about it. I did start implementing one years back, sorted by drawer, folder color and so on, but that project eventually fizzled out. About the only thing that's well sorted is debts, past and current,  bank accounts, and tax returns. Other things like vehicle maintennance records, paystubs, employment paperwork, insurance paperwork and so on, are in varying states allong the 'less well organized' spectrum. Truthfully, beyond my debt accounts, bank accounts, and taxes, I'm not entirely certain what I need to keep, or for how long.

How do y'all approach this? What's worked for you? What hasn't?

Kaikou

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Re: What do you file? How do you sort it?
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2015, 01:34:51 PM »
I converting  (slowly) over to a paperless approach.

i'm the kind of person that saves every piece of paper. it's bogging me down. probably cause I don't file them.

pdxbator

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Re: What do you file? How do you sort it?
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2015, 01:48:00 PM »
I only keep 7 years worth of stuff. A lot of stuff I'm not even keeping anymore. Why keep bank statements? It's all electronic. My dad has kept YEARS worth of files and has many filing cabinets full of stuff. He frets over it, and it isn't worth getting worked up about it. Let it go.

smalllife

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Re: What do you file? How do you sort it?
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2015, 02:29:08 PM »
The only paper I keep is anything I used to calculate taxes (and a copy of the return), car and house maintenance receipts, vet vaccination records, and legal documents.   Everything else is available online or isn't on "necessary to rebuild life" level.

I have six folders, each with a category. Since there isn't much in each, its easy to find what I need. All of it is in a magazine holder.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2015, 02:30:46 PM by smalllife »

Kaikou

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Re: What do you file? How do you sort it?
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2015, 02:51:03 PM »
The only paper I keep is anything I used to calculate taxes (and a copy of the return), car and house maintenance receipts, vet vaccination records, and legal documents.   Everything else is available online or isn't on "necessary to rebuild life" level.

I have six folders, each with a category. Since there isn't much in each, its easy to find what I need. All of it is in a magazine holder.


what are the categories?

smalllife

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Re: What do you file? How do you sort it?
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2015, 02:54:35 PM »
Important docs, pet 1, pets 2&3, house, car, medical, current year taxes, past tax years, reference (contracts, cheat sheets)

dragoncar

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Re: What do you file? How do you sort it?
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2015, 09:35:05 PM »
I converting  (slowly) over to a paperless approach.

i'm the kind of person that saves every piece of paper. it's bogging me down. probably cause I don't file them.

I'm paperless, but the real answer is to be less OCD about your filing.  There are very few documents that you really need to be able to find, and you probably already know where they are.  I'm a digital packrat, although I haven't scanned my 13 years worth of receipts stuffed into brown paper bags.  At least I'm now starting to toss out silly stuff like fast food receipts.

Anyways, I organize PDFs by category, with a date and description in the file name.  Some day it would be nice to set up an OCR job to apply searchable text to all my PDFs, but I haven't figured a really easy way to do it yet.  Luckily, computers and algorithms are only getting faster so I can wait.

kittenwhiskers

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Re: What do you file? How do you sort it?
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2015, 10:42:51 PM »

Kaikou

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Re: What do you file? How do you sort it?
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2015, 07:04:13 AM »
I converting  (slowly) over to a paperless approach.

i'm the kind of person that saves every piece of paper. it's bogging me down. probably cause I don't file them.

I'm paperless, but the real answer is to be less OCD about your filing.  There are very few documents that you really need to be able to find, and you probably already know where they are.  I'm a digital packrat, although I haven't scanned my 13 years worth of receipts stuffed into brown paper bags.  At least I'm now starting to toss out silly stuff like fast food receipts.

Anyways, I organize PDFs by category, with a date and description in the file name.  Some day it would be nice to set up an OCR job to apply searchable text to all my PDFs, but I haven't figured a really easy way to do it yet.  Luckily, computers and algorithms are only getting faster so I can wait.

I always keep fast food receipts. lol   breaking the habit slowly

acroy

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Re: What do you file? How do you sort it?
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2015, 07:42:49 AM »
(Almost) All electronic here!

Finances are all on-line. I’ve opted for Paperless on everything possible. I have an Outlook reminder pop up every 2 weeks to go through all the accounts (bank, work, 401k, utility, cell phone, etc). As long as I keep up every 2 weeks, and everything looks good, I see no reason to keep anything. It’s ‘water under the bridge’ and I made sure the water looks good :)

Taxes: online. There are still some paper statements necessary for taxes; and I keep Goodwill receipts etc. When taxes are done I scan it all in and toss the paper. I save the electronic tax records indefinitely…

Car records are ‘almost’ all electronic. I keep a .txt file with all car details: make/model/year/vin, modifications, major services. We do have a small paper notebook to log gas fillups. Which I never go back to look at again…. Time to chuck this one. Paper insurance card in the glovebox. Electronic insurance cards (cars and house) stored as backup.

House, church, etc records and lists are all electronic. Again I have .txt files for specific things, down to the serial number of the swimming pool pump, paint codes, and a reminder list for backpacking vacations.

Kid schoolwork is printed and performed manually. We keep 1 grade at a time. Grades are logged electronically. The paperwork is recycled at the end of each grade.

I do keep a physical folder for ‘memorabilia’: cards, letters etc from special people. At the end of each year I cull through and decide what (if anything) to actually keep. I have a few very special letters, pics, etc from my aged grandparents, etc.

Electronic backup: the home computer has a folder for each year. The home computer main drive is backed up on another monster cheap hard drive. Every 3mo I back up the folders to an external hard drive stored at work. This guards pretty well against drive failure, fire, theft, etc.

DW and I review where all the stuff is located annually; in case I suffer unexpected disability or decide to run away to the circus.

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: What do you file? How do you sort it?
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2015, 10:54:24 AM »
For those that don't keep copies of bank statements, what's the plan for if the bank system burns and they lose all account records, and it's up to you to provide evidence of what you had with them?  Is this a valid concern?  I've never heard of it happening, but since I keep more money with the bank/brokerage than I ever have before, I wonder about this.  Every once in a while I'll download my statements and print to PDF to save them, but it's not automated so I don't do it as often as I'd like.

Beaker

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Re: What do you file? How do you sort it?
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2015, 11:52:32 AM »
Not sure if I'm more or less OCD than average. I keep paper documents if somebody gave them to me (ie, if someone mails me a statement I'll file it, but I don't print e-statements). I keep hanging file folders for:

  • Taxes (one folder per year, also all scanned and backed up, including copies of anything that was used in preparing the return)
  • Misc. Bills and Statements (one folder per year, not scanned. Occasionally I need this to dispute something with a vendor. I don't keep receipts except for very expensive items.)
  • House Records (one per property with invoices, receipts & warranties for work performed, some scanned)
  • Manuals & Warranties (one per property for systems & appliances, plus one extra for random items not attached to a house)
  • Important Stuff (things I plan to drag around basically forever for whatever reason)
  • Health (bills and notes from medical stuff, most of which has to be scanned for submission to FSA anyway. Might ditch this one)
  • Personal (notes, birthday cards, whatever)

I've also got a shelf of other random files. All the closing docs from house purchases, copies of estate & medical planning docs for myself and family (those that have them), that sort of thing. It's a lot of paper, but I have actually referenced that stuff a few times.

Important stuff is scanned and dumped into a Dropbox folder that's shared with my wife. That gives us both easy access to it from home and work, plus a degree of backup (though I also backup with CrashPlan).

Regarding bank statements - if you ever close a bank account you may lose access to their website. Even if you still have the account, they may only give you 1-2 years of history, or might charge for access to older statements. So if you want to have that stuff in a few years, better to keep some kind of copy yourself. I download and keep electronic copies, though it has rarely been needed.

Sailor Sam

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Re: What do you file? How do you sort it?
« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2015, 11:58:36 AM »
I keep paper copies of the this stuff, stored in a fire resistant box:

Taxes: First page is W2, then return, then worksheets, then all other documents for that year. Includes receipts used for itemized deduction;

USCG Certifications: If these disappear I'm totally fooked;

Military Records: Equally screwed if no one has a copy;

Miscellaneous Important: Originals of vital personal documents, paid-in-full notes from closed loans, some sentimental stuff, will and power-of-attorney;

Car Records: Title, maintenance records

Medical Records: I have to tote paper copies of all this crap around. It's a pain


All of these documents are also scanned and organized electronically, except 10 years of medical records. still working on that one. I keep a hard drive backup that gets refreshed 1/month. Also have an encrypted thumb drive in my car, in my go-bag, and my get-home bag. I figure one of those will survive a small scale disaster that forces relocation.

I used to keep paystubs, and recently purged 15 years of records. It was fun to look back, but they are no longer records I feel compelled to hold onto. I do rely on the bank to keep the bank statements. If there's an even that wipes out these records, then we're kinda screwed anyway. That's my rational, at least.