Organized Family Files

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Several years ago I read a simple article from BHG that forever changed the way I deal with paper that comes into my home. We all have the usual bills and junk mail that rotates through the cycle of either pay, respond, or file, but the last one is usually the kicker. These are the important documents that you need to file away, but will, on occasion need to access. It took some dedication, but having a system in place for getting organized family files makes it easier to file things in the future.

I will admit, I am a paper piler-upper. And this post is what I honestly need to remind myself to get back on the organizing ball, so-to-speak. If you need tips on how to handle paper as it comes into your home, you can read about my system here. I don’t mind filing, but with three boys and a full-time job, it’s not exactly the first thing I want to do on my precious weekends. So let’s call this part one of getting my family files organized. Part two will be all about school papers, kids artwork and the like. Sound good?

First things first, you’ll need a few handy supplies:
– Colorful file folders. I used these, they aren’t really “pretty” but I needed them to be color-coded.
– File folder dividers with tab labels
– Small white envelope labels
– Sharpie pen

Start with color coding your files – yes, I’m telling you to create more piles – four to be exact. Don’t worry, it gets worse before it gets better! If you want to use my system, this is how I color-coded.

1. Green is for all things financial: taxes, bank info, utilities, loans, employment papers etc.
2. Blue is for all insurance papers: car, home, auto, medical, etc.
3. Yellow is for personal papers: I’ve designated one folder for each family member – including the pets.
4. Red is for home: mortgage info, home improvement projects, house repair receipts, etc.

This is the fun part – labeling! Within your four piles, take a look at the kinds of papers you have that need their own folder. Start with green folders and work your way to the red ones. I used the floor of my home office to get everything out so I could see it. So use your kitchen table or living room floor, whatever space you may have as it will help to organize all your files before putting them in the file drawer.

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I used the file folder dividers with tab labels to label the categories within each color. For example, in the green financial folders, I created tabs for taxes, utilities, medical bills, student loans, employment and credit reports. Then within each of those sections, there are folders for either the year (taxes), utility company (utilities), family member (medical), loan type (student loans), company (employment), report name (credit reports).

Based on the papers you have, you may need to create your own categories and sub folders. The point is to personalize it to what makes sense for you. How do you organize your family files? Are you in need of some major organization, or maybe you’re like me where a few things have piled up and you just need to use the good system you have in place. I’d love to hear!