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Accordian file method

April 16th, 2008 at 11:00 pm

I started a new method for organizing my short-term financial paperwork (utility bills, bank statements, cc statements, medical and insurance statements, etc.) a year ago, and I must say that I've been quite pleased with the result. Although I pay most of my bills through my bank, I'm not keen to go completely paperless with these statements because you have to keep track of so many websites, usernames, and passwords.

I like using an accordian file for these short-term statements that you only need to keep for a year or so. At one point my DH convinced me to try hanging folders, but it was inconvenient having the file cabinet upstairs in the office so the filing always stacked up until it was a real chore. My accordian file sits on a side table in our dining area.

Anyway, back when I used to file things completely by catagory, I never seemed to have enough tabs and there was always a lot of digging to find a particular bill I needed.

Here's my little change in strategy that has made a big difference. Instead of having tabs for electricity, water, phone, etc., I have four tabs labelled, "Utilities Jan-Mar", "Utilities Apr-Jun", etc. When opening my mail, it's a lot quicker to open all the envelopes at once, throw out the junk, and put all the statements into the current slot at once. If I ever need to look for a past statement, I generally know which quarter I need to look in, and since the bills look different from each other, I can quickly find the month I'm looking for. I have a rolling year's worth of statements -- when April 2008 got here, I take all the old 2007 statements out of the old Apr-Jun slot and shred them.

It's worked so well for utilities that I'm now going to extend it to bank and credit card statements. So my 13 tabs will now be:

Util Jan-Mar
Util Apr-Jun
Util Jul-Sep
Util Oct-Dec
Bank/CC Jan-Mar
Bank/CC Apr-Jun
Bank/CC Jul-Sep
Bank/CC Oct-Dec
Insurance
Medical
Paystubs
Taxes (for goodwill receipts, property tax statements, etc.)

For receipts, I throw the receipt for any big ticket item (say over $200) in a photo box. Not sure what I'll do when it gets full. I don't keep minor receipts from eating out, groceries, Target, etc., unless there is a big likelihood of needing to return something.

I've decided to start a second accordian file for paper statements for my investments. So far it's only got four tabs, and I'm not sure what else will go in there:
Trade Confirm
Brokerage 1
529
Social Security

Also a third file for business:
Receipts for deductable expenses
Business license, etc
Business checking statements

2 Responses to “Accordian file method”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    You might get tax statements involved with your investments. 5498's showing investments for the year and 1099's when you do a rollover or withdrawal. I'm glad the system is working for you!

  2. zetta Says:

    Yes, 1099's, W-2's, etc already go into the Tax slot of the first file. When I'm ready to start my taxes, everything is already in one place.

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