So I moved out of mom & dads last year. I've saved every bank statement, every bill, every home insurance letter, basically everything piece of mail that wasn't a credit card offer. My desk is a mess and it's totally overwhelming, I want to be able to use my desk again, but aside from throw everything into a folder, I have no idea of how to start organizing it. When I was living with my parents, I just had a three ring binder that I organized my taxes and a few other odds and ends in, but being a home owner comes with a tremendous amount of monthly paperwork, and I'm not sure how to start on getting it organized. Any suggestions?
After some searching I found an excellent system. Obviously, you probably need to start with a filing cabinet, but alphabetical order won't help much because of all the different files, and for one credit card related file, you might put "Credit card" and on another you might put "Amazon card", and they would get filed completely differently regardless of the heading you put on them. I've found that using differently colored hanging file folders as seperators works well for me, I have several simple one word headings for various subjects on the colored folders, while items of that subject type go behind the folder. I went ahead and cut the colored folders in half - I don't want to file directly into those folders, they are simply organizers. Here is a photo of my example. Hope it helps anyone with the same issue.
I used to keep a three ring-binder of all my statements. Each year, I would start a new binder each year. Collecting statements for 10+ years (and rarely looking at them, I decided to reorganize. For me, it was just too much hassle to sort and file everything.
First, I would ask if you need to keep everything. Look at http://publications.usa.gov/epublications/keeprecords/keeprecords.htm to see how long you should keep common documents and where you should keep them. (E.g., some important documents should kept in a safe deposit box or a fire safe.)
Second, ask yourself how frequently you need to retrieve documents and do you care if similar statements are together. Since I rarely need to look back for documents, I now use magazine holders. I use one for each year and print out a "cover sheet" to say what year is in that box. I keep the current year's box on my desk. After I'm done with a statement, it goes in the box. This makes my filing quite quick and easy. At the end of the year, I take the one off my desk and put it on a bookshelf, shred the contents of the oldest box, print a new cover sheet, and put that box on my desk.