Organize Paper In Your Home


By: Cheryl Adelman Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers

Paper: It’s complicated.

Mail, catalogues, receipts, kids’ school announcements, coupons, important documents, and so on. According to the Direct Mail Association, about 100 million households receive 16.6 billion catalogs each years.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) estimates that 80 percent of filed papers are never looked at again. Let’s review the rules I have collected from some of the experts, including, on where to store these documents.

Safe-deposit (or home fire proof box):

Certificates of birth, death, marriage, and adoption;

Social Security card, deeds, car titles;

An inventory—either written or video—of household possessions, especially electronics, expensive appliances, collectibles, and jewelry;

Tax returns for the past seven years, as well as any receipts, statements, and other documents that relate to those returns;

Insurance policies, estate documents such as wills, trusts, and powers of attorney (keep copies with your estate planning attorney and in a safe place at home);


and important medical records


Paper bank statements, or create a folder on your computer if you’ve gone paperless, after you’ve balanced your checkbook;

Receipts related to major home improvements;

Investment statements;

Trade confirmations for securities that you still own;

Copies of estate documents such as wills, trusts, and powers of attorney.

Separately keep warranties, user manuals, and receipts related to household appliances and equipment, in a box.


Credit card offers and other solicitations with your name preprinted on them;

Canceled checks related to non-tax-deductible items;

Deposit slips that accompany your bank and investment statements;

Credit card receipts;

Paid utility bills and paid credit card bills, if unrelated to the current tax year

How to Recycle Shredded Paper –


Marketing materials that accompany your bank and investment statements;

Prospectuses and annual and semiannual reports related to your investments;

Warranties and manuals for items that you no longer own.

This chart tells how long to keep what. Indicate the dates right on the file folder.


If you can’t sort it daily, prioritize it daily. Pull bills. Stack them in due date order.

Everything else can wait for Sunday, when you know you’ll take the time to sort.

Stop junk mail with

Kitchen counter

Do you have a pile with school announcements for the kids, to-do lists, coupons, receipts, post it reminders. Set up a small attractive file that is specific to the needs of your family’s daily life.

Don’t forget a calendar, and keep pens and a recycling bin handy. This is completely separate from other files. Taking the time to do this one thing can exponentially improve your life.

Cheryl Adelman, owner of Organize In A Day™, loves to help organize homes, write about it, and gives entertaining talks about it. See her at Boca Library April 22, 1:30, at the 6th annual Save Money” conference., 609-287-3119