Organization For Less
Tackling That Thing We Stuff Papers In
If you have a home office you most likely have a filing cabinet. You know, that thing that most people put folders in and then just stuff papers into. I know some of you are guilty of this. If you are, please raise your hand.
Just recently, I tackled my own file cabinet. It was pretty organized because I’m an organize person Well, I try to be an organized person, but I knew I could do better.
Here are the materials that I used and re-purposed for the job. If you don’t have them at home, you can find these items at your local Staples, which I have to say is an office supply company I truly love.
Years ago I purchased hanging folders, index tabs and binder clips. I knew I wanted to better organize my files. I bought the binder clips, but wasn’t sure why I had bought them for this project. Consequently, the clips have been sitting around for years never having been used. The folders and tabs were all I thought I really needed. However, I have found a great way to better organize my files and use those binder clips that have been just sitting around.
Now, I’m sure everyone who uses this system of filing uses a folder for say one particular item (i.e. 2011 Tax Returns), writes on the tabs and the stuffs the papers in the folder and it’s a done deal.
Here is how I have my files, now organized in my two drawer file cabinet.
There are four main categories in the top drawer, which mainly holds my personal files.
- Finances/School Loan
- School Loan Payment Chart: Where I keep track of how much I owe on my school loan
- Oil Receipts: I hold onto last years oil receipts so that I have an idea of what we spent and what we might need to save for the upcoming winter
- Tax Returns
- Bank Statements
- Pay Stubs
This drawer is pretty empty, but right now holds pet information and car maintenance receipts. I’m hoping once my boyfriend gets his file cabinet that the car receipts will be moved to his. Any bills that we pay together, like the pet bills, I store in the bottom drawer.
Now, I’m sure you are wondering where the other items come into play. In the photo below you see how it all comes together.
I don’t have a separate yearly folder for each item. Instead I label the folder with the category using Microsoft Word. I create a “tab” for each. Just create a table with a border and use the dimensions of your tab. Look at your package for the correct measurements. I then cut out the printed labels and put them in the clear index tabs. For the ease of finding something, use the same font, size and put all the tabs on the left side. This way everything is readable and you are not going back and fourth to find what you are looking for.
Once you have all your tabs printed and put in place, it’s time to the the snacks of paper you put in stacks into the folders.
What I did was group each item by year. Go back into Word and here is where we are going to use the address the labels. Print the year and the category for each item on a address label. So for me I had 2004 Tax Return, 2011 Bank Statements, 2011 Pay Stubs and I did this for each year. Print out your labels.
Now take a piece of white printing paper and place the label in the upper left corner of the paper when you have it in the horizontal position. Why the upper-left? The same reason I put the tabs on the left side – ease of use and finding of documents. Take your first stack of papers (i.e. 2004 Tax Return) and place the paper with the address label on top if the documents and bind it with the binder clip. Afterward, place it in your folder marked Tax Returns. Why do I do this? I can have multiple years in one folder, saving me folders for other items I might need and best of all, saving money and not having to purchase the hanging file folders often.
For my Tax Returns I can put seven years, the amount of years you are suppose to keep. For the other folders I’m able to hold three years worth of documents. For pay stubs I keep six years worth. Since I can only fit three years worth of documents in one folder I place another folder behind the original folder, but don’t label it. For me this keeps the flow. I don’t have to stop and look at the tab that I’ve already saw. See how it’s all put together below!
As you see this is easy to do and I bet most of you have these materials already. If not, These items are very affordable, with the exception of hanging file folders, which run a little high. If you use the items the way I do, you will have plenty to keep using for other cabinets and other projects you might want to tackle.
If you purchase the labels that I linked to, you can click here to download a Word document that I’ve created to print labels for those specific tabs! Saving you even more time.
Staples has coupons for more organization products.
*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.*