It’s day two of our 21 day challenge.
Yesterday we talked a bit about what kind of documents we need to keep, should keep and want to keep. I promised I would make you a printable picture of the KEEP overview.
It’s not all fancy but it should work for your needs.
Click here to get a printable version
What have I been up!
Enough of this talking about what to keep… have you gotten any decluttering done? Is there any progress on your pile?
Well, yes 🙂 There are some progress, but that will have to wait for tomorrow. I can’t let you inn on everything right away you know 😉 Right now I’d rather tell you about, who all is joining in on this endeavor.
There is a saying “The more the merrier”, and so far there are a few of us who will be attacking the paper piles. And I for one, can’t wait to see what stacks we all will shed!
– Melinda, at PurpleSlobinRecovery, is joining with about 15 minutes a day
– Viv, at GriefHappens, said she needed to be on this “like an over-sugared kid in a bouncy house”, and are joining with 30 minutes a day 🙂
– Jena, at All Round Better me, is in for 60 minutes a week
– Amy, at More time than money, also joining with 60 minutes a week
– Grace, at The CFO MOM Blog, just told me she is joining, woohoo
Sitting on the fence
– Gilly, at Anything Except Housework is waiting to see if we survive it all 😉
– Jen, at The Hidden Hoarder, is hard at work on her front porch, and haven’t quuuuite decided yet 😉
I hope I didn’t miss anyone.. if I did, or if you just decided you want to join. Let me know, and I’ll add you in on the list.
Guess that’s it for today,
see you all around. tomorrow
It’s day one of our 21 day challenge, and the first thing we have to do is gather every scrap of paper that is using real estate in the house. I hunted high and low, and my pile can be found in yesterdays post.
You’re not ready with your pile yet? Right! Everyone, you’ve got 15 minutes to gather it all into a huge pile.
Ready? No.. not yet? You need a little more time? No problem…. (minutes are passing)
OK guys. Everyone have their piles? Yep? Great.
Seems like we are all ready to get down to business 🙂
It’s time to start SORTING the stack!
One, two, three.. ready… NO,no… hang on a minute! I just thought about something. There is something we need to talk about first!
You might be really tempted to chuck it all right smack in the middle of sorting through your papers (I know I would love that), but you should not do this.
You see! There are some personal files we need to keep, and some we should keep, in addition to the ones you want to keep.
Let’s talk about the these real quick.
My lists below are a compilation of what I have found on the web. Not everything will be applicable for everyone, I might also have missed some documents. Anyways, the lists should work as a general guideline for what we need and should keep. Now, you might not want to hang on to all, I’ll leave that up to your discretion 😉
Disclaimer! If you own a business, there are specific rules for what you need to keep. My lists are for personal documents only.
NEED TO KEEP (physical copies and data files if possible)
- Will, Power of attorney and living will
- Birth and death certificates
- Marriage license, prenups and divorce papers
- Social security information (US) or other equivalent type of documents (rest of the world)
- Proof of citizenship
- Adoption papers
- Alimony arrangements
- Child custody agreements
- Military records
- IRA information/contributions
- Retirement/Pension plan documents
- ID cards and passports
- Insurance policies (might be OK to have as physical paper in addition to any digital copy’s)
- Vehicle titles and loan documents
- House deeds and mortgage documents
- Any other loan/mortgage documents, this also includes personal loans
- Business license
In short, you’ll want to keep physical copies of things related to state/federal matters, including certifications, licenses, or deeds. Why?
1. You, might want to have easy access to these, just in case you need them.
2. If you need a physical copy and don’t have one, it’s a pain to have them replaced, since you have to make a direct request to a government agency, and we all know how “fast” they work 😉
SHOULD KEEP (data files and/or as physical copies)
These are documents you should hold on too, for a while. You don’t need to keep them as physical documents, unless you really want to. Scanned files are fine.
- Tax records and receipts, including the yearly statements you need for the tax return (Norway – IRS can go back 10 years = keep 10 years, US = 7 years – check out Forbes info on this, UK – 22 months )
- Pay stubs (keep for a year, until you can check it against your yearly statement)
- Bank statements
- Social security statements
- Annual insurance policy statements
- Retirement plan statements (401(k), 529, IRA, etc)
- Home purchase, sale, or improvement documents (keep as long as you own the house + at least six/seven years after you sell (for tax purposes))
- Medical records (should keep as long as they are relevant for your situation)
- Medical bills (keep at least a year after payment in case of disputes)
- Warranty documents and receipts (keep as long as you own them)
- Pictures of expensive items you own, in case you need them for an insurance claim
There are also some documents you probably should keep the most recent version of, for your own piece of mind:
- Canceled checks and bank deposit slips (until you receive your monthly bank statement)
- Bills (until you have proof that the payment was received)
I’m sure there are more I have missed, but in general A GOOD RULE OF THUMB can be to think (when deciding what to keep)
“How hard is this document to replace? Will I need to hang around a government office, hospital, bank or on a phone for hours to get hold of a copy?” Is the answer a resounding YES, then it’s probably best to hold onto it 🙂 Anything else, can probably be scanned or found as online documents.
WANT TO KEEP
Then we get to the documents/scraps of paper we want to keep. maybe they are ideas, a great article, drawing or sentimental items like old letters. You are the only one who can decide on these items. But to keep that particular pile under control, make sure the paper/document is important to you, inspires you or gives you tremendous joy (like drawing from a kid, letter from a dear one and so on).
As I mentioned before, I shred all documents before they leave the house. You should too! If not, you might risk people rummaging through your trash finding personal information about you, that they can use to empty your bank accounts, buy things on credit cards or even completely steal your identity. If you don’t own a shredder, make sure you at least tear the important stuff.
This turned out to be a long list of things to keep in mind when sorting through your papers.
To make it easier for you, I will add a printable picture/file on this tomorrow, in case you would like the overview on hand as you sort through your papers – I know I could need this 😉 Why not add it right away.. well, I haven’t made it yet.. and as it’s 11PM here, I can’t get to bed soon enough 😉
Until tomorrow everyone, until tomorrow 🙂
I mentioned a couple of days ago that it is time for a new 21 day challenge. A paper challenge this time.
I figured that since it’s a challenge, I will need a few rules/goals. How else would you guys know if I’m keeping up my end of this 😉
- I will dedicate at least 60 minutes a day (yes, every day) to sorting out my paper monster.
- I will update you all on a regular basis, on what I’m up to, and on how much has gone “out-the-door” (read: trash pile) 😉
- Out-the-door – I’m hoping that about 90% of all my papers will be shredded at the end of it all. Why not a hundred? Since there are some papers that we need to keep physical versions of, I guess I’ll be keeping those. Since I don’t know how many there are of these, I’m going with the “hopefully 90% out-the-door” 😉 As you can see from the piles below.. it’s not easy to say exactly how much will be going out-the-door!
When do we start?
Tomorrow is a god a day as any to start, so I’ll see you then?
Melinda, you ready?
Now that the great cooktop debacle is over, I want to talk to you about paper.
I’m not talking about things like wrapping paper or nice little pristine notebooks waiting to be filled.
No, I’m talking about all the paper we tend to hold on to. The paper “clutter” that seems to be everywhere.
Stuff like old tax returns, pay slips, bills, manuals, scraps of paper with notes on, receiptsm magazine and newspaper tear outs, insurance papers, financial statements, health info and notebooks filled with random notes.
Off course, some paper we need to keep, but those tend to easily get lost in the pile of paper we really don’t need to hold on to.
Just about everyone I know, have way to much paper floating around. And I for one, want that to be over, once and for all.
It’s time to tackle the paper monster, hanging around in the house.
You might remember I tried this back in May. My intention was to scan all the important ones, and then get rid of it all.
Now as you probably gathered from lack of posts about that particular task, I never succeeded.
I sorted some, and even scanned some, and then I had to tuck it all away because of visitors. And you know how that goes. Out of sight out of mind! Yeah, that particular project never made it out of the cabinets again… until now!
I really do want this stuff gone! So I’m giving it another try, but this time I’m doing it in a way that might help me actually get there.
You might remember my 21 day declutter challenge in September! Which turned out to be a pretty successful project, mostly because of you guys.
I’m thinking maybe a new challenge is the way to go, to get my pile under control, a 21 day paper challenge.
I might try to tackle the project by topic, but topic or not. There are a few steps that will be the same, regardless of what pile I’m attacking.
I will sort papers into what I need to keep, should keep, and want to keep. The rest? Goes into the toss pile.
All papers in the keep pile will be scanned.
When a piece of paper has been scanned, and checked that it looks OK, a new evaluation is needed.
Do I need to keep this as a physical copy or can it be tossed now that it’s scanned?
As I scan along, I will end up with a few documents I will need to keep physical copies off, like for example birth-certificates, ID cards, passports, vehicle title, active mortgage documents and so on. There are more, of course, but we will get to that.
The physical keepers, I will categorize and file into binders.
As I sort, scan and file my paper, I will end up with quite a lot of paper in the toss pile. All this will be shredded, then tossed.
I’m super careful with anything that might have my name, bank details, credit card details, health information or anything else on, that might say things about me. I do not want to set myself up for identity theft, therefore I shred all personal papers leaving the house.
21 day, sound like a long time.. will it take you that long?
I have no idea. My experience from earlier tells me that the scanning part will be what takes the longest. And from a health point of view, I want to spend as little time in front of the computer as I can.
Right now, there are piles and piles of paper to go through. Sadly as most of it has been sorted several times before, and I believe most of the papers I have.. are the scan-able ones… ouch 😦
Will I get it done, in 21 days?
I’m certain I will get it done (cocky I know).. but if I don’t… at least I’m going to be a heck of a lot closer, than I am today 😉
Do you have a pile pile from hell, that needs some work? Why not join me and we can tackle the paper monster together.
Not everyone will be scanning, I’m sure, but there might still be work to be done, with sorting, filing and shredding.
I would love the company 🙂
I told you yesterday I was going to find ALL the paper in my house and pull it together in a pile or two!
Well I did… and here it is! My paper pile from hell!
Yeah, I should probably have heaped it all into a big hazardous pile. I’m sure that would have looked way more impressive 🙂 But, I’m just to organized, what can I say?
It might not look to bad, but I’m telling you.. there are still about 54 inches of paper… 😦
You wouldn’t by any chance be struggle with papers, just like me, now would you? Why not join me in culling it all down!
April is tax time here in Norway. You get all your information drizzling in over a couple of months and by April 30th you better have your taxes done and delivered or hell breaks loose… or does it?
Actually no, it doesn’t, any longer…
You see, Norway started with e-filing quite a few years ago, where you pretty much just had to check, correct and press a button to file your tax return, and you were done. Nice right?
Well, now we have gone even further. Now we don’t have to do anything, absolutely zilch, nada, nope…
You see, the rule is that if you don’t press that button to “file and approve” your tax return, they just assume that you “approve” the numbers the tax authorities have concluded with, and it’s being automatically filed for you… Great yeah? Well, yes it is, IF they have your numbers correct in the system.
And that’s a big IF! Regardless of how automated taxes are becoming, I would always recommend to take an hour or two and check it properly. Check that they have the correct amounts on your pay and deductibles, that they have not forgotten anything or added something that should not be there. They might not know about all the little things about you, make sure you add them. It can pay off, as every little amount can help reduce the final amount of taxes.
So, every year, end of April, I sit down to do my taxes, and at the same time, I start to go through the rest of my paper monster 😉
My taxes don’t yield a lot of paper any more, as most everything is online. And truth be told, the rest of the year don’t yield a lot either. But even though most of my stuff is now online at different institutions, I still seem to manage to hold on to a significant amount of papers anyway. And this year that stops!
I have decided that this is the year to digitize my entire paper pile! Everything that I want/need to keep, that is in paper form, will be scanned over the next few months. And it all starts, today, people. It all starts today 🙂
So what kind of papers have I been holding on to and collected?
- Tax papers
- Insurance papers
- Birth certificates
- Medical papers
- Pension information
- Warranty receipts
- Work papers
- Some bills
- Old letters and postcards
- Random cut outs from magazines
- Scraps of papers with all kinds of scribbles on (yes, that would be my scribbles)
As you can see from the list, I’m holding on to a lot of paper related stuff (I have a few shelves and boxes full) so you can see how this might take me a while to go through.
My game plan:
Tomorrow I’m going to collect all and I mean ALL the paper I have in my house and put it in a pile or two or ten 🙂 I think there will be a few piles as I’m sure I have way more paper stashed around than I realise.
And thats when the real works starts! I’m going to have to go through everything, and decide what to toss, what to shred, what to scan and what to keep as physical paper.
But… before I can get to the scanning part… I need to get my hands on a half decent two-sided paper scanner, so guess that’s also on my list of things to do.
Stay tuned…. I’ll be posting all about that terrible pile…. yes, soon!! 😉