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Show your files some love

February is Archive Your Files Month



February is a perfect time to get organized for tax season. It's also an opportunity to review the papers you've kept and determine if they are needed, or if they can be recycled or put through the shredder.

First decide what can be tossed

Let go of any documents that are outdated and just taking up space. Also, items such as manuals for products you no longer own, old magazines, catalogs and newspapers, coupons and old receipts, take-out menus, used calendars and planners, phone books and more.

Next, decide what to keep

Keep short-term action items (e.g., a bill to pay, papers to sign and return to school), and reference items (e.g., flyer for upcoming sale) at your desk or in a desktop file box. Keep papers that need to be archived (e.g., tax forms, insurance documents) in a file cabinet or container kept in a closet, basement etc. As you are reviewing items, think about whether you have the piece already stored electronically.

Safeguard important papers

Make sure to store important papers in a fireproof box or safe at home, or in a safety deposit box at your local bank. Typical documents include: birth, death and marriage certificates; passports; adoption paper; deeds; titles; Social Security cards; wills; powers of attorney; divorce decrees; loan documents; property appraisals; and more.

Finally, remember to always consult your accountant or attorney for record retention guidelines that are specific to you and your legal needs.

To keep your paper files under control review them at least once a year. You will find you can locate items quickly, and have available space for incoming documents.

If just the idea of tackling your files sends you into a panic, contact me at (608) 345-1836 for assistance organizing your paperwork.