Does spring cleaning make you think of new beginnings or want to run? On our team, Brittany spring cleans for fun and Alyx would rather spend that time sewing or with family. The most difficult part about spring cleaning must be figuring out how to organize paperwork. Especially if your paper organizing strategy has a lot to do with paper piles. Let’s talk about how we can organize paperwork while we spring clean.
First, decide if you want hard copies or to make it digital.
Keep in mind that you will need hard copies of some forms and that anything you make digital should be backed up (cloud, email, external hard drive).
Locate the following and make a pile on the floor or a folder (physical or digital) for each:
- Mortgage documents
- Life insurance policies
- Health and dental plan booklet
- Tax returns and Notice of Assessments
- Home and car insurance policies
- Banking documents
- Loan statements
- RRSP/TFSA/RESP statements
- Receipts to save
Now that you know where it all is and whether you want hard copies or digital copies, we can organize the “paperwork”. We’ll give you a few options on how to do this.
Option 1: Quick fix for hard copies
Use a boxy file folder with each slot labeled for all the above information.
In January each year, take out old statements, receipts, warranties, and either shred, put into a tax folder, or move to a locked metal document box in the basement. That locked metal box is where you’ll keep your passports, marriage license, warranties, copies of wills, and other long-term important documents. Bonus points if your metal locked box is fire and flood-proof!
Chances are, you have some paperwork on your computer – emailed receipts and such – that also need a home. We suggest either printing those off and putting them in your boxy file folder or reading option 2 and applying it just to those documents. Of course, you would simply substitute scanning your documents by saving them directly into the appropriate digital file.
Option 2: Make it digital
Start by making a folder on your computer for personal documents. Within your folder, create a file for each pile that you have – Will, Mortgage docs, receipts, etc.
Then, working with one pile at a time, scan the documents onto your computer. Change the name of each document to its proper title so that you can find it easily later.
You can organize paperwork as specific as you’d like with this.
You might be content keeping your documents in these main category files and scrolling through for what you need.
Or, you might want to make it more specific. For example, you can have a main folder for your banking documents and create sub-folders within that to separate your statements, contracts, notices, etc.
Remember to have backups of all digital files.
Option 3: Put it all in a locked filing cabinet
This is similar to going digital, but for hard copies. You’ll organize paperwork by making a hanging file for each category with a label.
Then, if you want to make documents easier to find, label a file folder to make more specific categories.
You’ll notice this is very similar to option 1. The difference is whether you want all of your documents in one place or if it’s more convenient to have quick access to the ones you’re most likely to use.
As you’re going through your paperwork, let’s make this even easier for the future.
- Know where your will is – It is often kept on file with your lawyer, but you should also have a copy
- Make a calendar note for when your mortgage term renews
- Review when your life insurance payments are due and if you have any renewal dates. Book a quick call with us if we can help you here.
- Review your Health and Dental Plan booklet and be sure you understand your long-term disability benefits
- Sign up for CRA’s “My Account”. This site makes accessing documents and benefit information (such as GST, Child Benefits, etc.) much easier.
- Make a calendar note for the renewal dates of your home and auto insurance policies
- Review your loan statements and interest rate details
- Review your investment statements and note your investment choices – ex. Mutual fund, GIC, RRSP, etc.
Now that you have your paperwork organized, you’ll have easy access to your documents when you need them, get reminders on renewals, and you may have found a few ways to save money during your interest and investment reviews!
Once you’ve got all these important documents organized, you’ll be ready for your next step in financial awesomeness! Is your budget the next task on your adulting checklist? Read our blog on the 123’s of Getting Your Finances in Order.