The family file

By Karla Mikkelson

Even after you pay your bills and clean up clutter on your kitchen counter, there always seems to be extra paper in the house.
I love in-baskets for each family member, but as those in-baskets fill, and papers needing immediate attention have been attended to, what are we to do with the remaining paper we need to save?
Try a family filing cabinet.  For a typical family of four, a two-drawer cabinet will be sufficient.
Label your files consistently, how you would refer to them.  For example, if you would look at your insurance paperwork and think to file it under American Family, then that’s how you should label the file, and keep it under A.
If you pick up that paper and think “insurance,” then it should be labeled as such and filed under I. No matter how organized a file, it must make sense to you and your family.

STEPS TO SUCCESS:
Purchase a sturdy two-drawer file cabinet.
Label a stack of tabbed folders to suit your family’s needs.
File them alphabetically.
Always place the most recent receipts and information in the front of each folder as you file.

OPTION 1 – Label by category:
• Bank – checking Jane
• Bank – checking John
• Bank – savings
• Child care
• Dance lessons
• Dental (insurance/receipts)
• Eye care
• Insurance Health – Jane
• Insurance Health – John
• Insurance – Home
• Insurance – Life
• Investments & 401k
• Paystubs
• Phone – bills/manuals
• Swim lessons
• Workout Center

OPTION 2 – Label by name:
• ABC Insurance Company – Home
• ABC Insurance Company – Life
• BCD Bank – checking John
• BCD Bank – checking Jane
• BCD Bank – savings
• CDE Day care
• DDD Dance Studio – Emma
• HIJ Dentistry
• KLM Insurance Company – Jane
• KLM Insurance Company – John
• M&M Optometry
• RST Bank – 401k
• School District 000 – Bobby
• School District 000 – Emma
• SOS Swim Lessons – Bobby
• XYZ Company – paystubs

Don’t be afraid to put extra folders in for paperwork, ripped out magazine pages, notes, etc. that you never know exactly where to file.
• Costume ideas
• Gift ideas
• Manuals (all appliances)
• School sports & activities
• Tax write offs 2014 (next year, you’ll have all your deductions in one folder, ready to head to the accountant).
Get your family involved and stay organized, so you’ll never have lost paperwork again!

Karla Mikkelson is a graphic artist and organizer.

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