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Tip Tuesday – Think Before You File

Phew! Taxes are (hopefully) filed, Spring Break is over, and the third week of April is “Organize Your Files Week.” Is it time to turn those frustrating piles of papers into pleasing files? Perhaps…NO!

My clients often want my help corralling their paper, pointing to massive piles they want to “file.” They are always a bit shocked when I simply ask “WHY?!” Instead of making a file folder for “electric bills” or “manuals,” I challenge them and ask “when was the last time you REFERRED to this type of paper?” Often the answer is “NEVER!” Then do you need a file for it?

I encourage you to ask yourself “what is the EASIEST way for me to get this information, should I need it, in the future?” Often the honest answer to that question is a quick online search or a phone call—NOT a file tucked away in a cabinet in the guest room.

Don’t get me wrong; there is absolutely a place for paper files as long as they are being REFERRED to. I don’t believe almost ALL papers should get tossed (unlike Marie Kondo). And of course, there are some papers that must be saved for legal reasons. But I am suggesting an end to the mindless filing!

A good example of a paper file well used was a file called “summer camp” that we set up for a busy mom. Throughout the year, as school flyers and mailers from the county came in, she gathered them all together in that file. In February, when registration time came, she had all of the resources she needed in one place to schedule camps for her school-aged kids.

She found it was easier to REFER to that file than to try to do an exhausting online search for local summer camps. Having that file made the task almost effortless!

So ask yourself (if there are no tax ramifications), WHY are you filing that investment statement, utility bill, prospectus information, or travel brochure? IF you are never going to REFER to it, save yourself the time and effort and pitch those papers that you thought you “should” file!

Has this made you rethink the way you file? If so, let us know!