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Now that tax season is over, most of America is breathing a collective sigh of relief. Personally, I don’t really mind paying taxes. I realize it goes towards roads and education and other good things. What I mind is preparing taxes. Part of me just wishes the IRS would just send me a bill like the electric company does.
In an effort to streamline tax preparation, Papa the Farmer and I have been working on our paper organization. Now, lest you look at the picture above and think, “Wow! She is so organized!” you need to know that #1 – Yes, that is my filing cabinet, #2 – No, I’m not naturally organized and #3 – A few months ago it did not look like this. Here’s a picture of the filing system we have been using up until last fall:
Just keeping it real, friends. It’s the kind of filing system that is no system! We bought these cabinets for $5 each off Craigslist 12 years ago. The keys are long gone. The cream cabinet is dented so badly that the drawer won’t shut. (And yes, that is rust on the top.) The accordian file is broken and that doesn’t shut either. The whole system is so ugly that it has to be hidden away where no one will see it. I’m an “out of sight, out of mind” kind of a girl and if I don’t see the filing cabinet, I don’t use it. So the whole system was just completely ineffective. Papa the Farmer still used the accordion file but we really had no idea what was in those other cabinets…
So we took the plunge and cleaned out whatever mysterious documents we were holding on to. Now some of the things in there we really do need to keep, but most of what we’ve been holding onto is ridiculous! Papa the Farmer had a drawer full of sermon notes and I had a drawer full of old college essays (you know… in case anyone wants to read my 20-year-old opinion of Beowulf.)
I decided to surprise Papa the Farmer with a new filing system. For his birthday. (Because we are nerds that way and celebrating his arrival at middle age truly made us happy.) I found a filing cabinet on Freecycle (one with drawers that actually close!) but it became very clear, very quickly that I am not naturally gifted at paper organization. I had no idea what I need to keep and what can just be tossed.
The folks at Freedom Filer (yes, that’s my affiliate link) offered to help me out. And I figured “Why not? If they can help me get organized, they can help anybody!”
What is Freedom Filer?
Freedom Filer is a set of color coded labels that will help you keep your files in order. It’s a rotation system that intrinsically encourages you to purge what needs to be purged when it needs to be purged!
The green labels are for monthly expenses: things like insurance, utilities, etc. This is 2014, so this month’s paperwork would go into the “even year” green files. When I place this month’s records in the filing cabinet, I simply remove the files that I placed there in the previous “even year” (2012). They are 2 years old and I don’t need them anymore!
Blue labels are for tax records and are filed according to the last number of the year. So, this year I would file my 2013 taxes in the “year 3” folder and remove m 2003 since I no longer need those. This is also the section where I file any paperwork regarding my income and deductions for the year.
The red labels are the permanent files. That’s where we keep things like our marriage certificate, property deeds and other important paper work that doesn’t get discarded often.
The orange labels are for policy updates: Things like the booklet that the Health Insurance company sends out every year that I don’t read anyway, but I can’t throw away either. That stuff goes in the orange section. The instruction manual calls it the “Remove/Replace” section. You guessed it. When I file the new booklet, the old one gets pulled out of the file and thrown away. Easy Peasy.
Purple labels are for personal resources. Things like maps, an inspiration file, personal projects, etc.
The whole system comes with a very easy to follow, illustrated manual. You do have to read the manual to figure out how to use the system correctly, but there are so many pictures in the manual that it really only takes a couple of minutes.
I am just LOVING this system! It tells me exactly what I need to keep and how long I need to keep it. (Notice there is no category for 20 year old Beowulf essays?) The labels cover every possible item that I could possibly need to file! Now who is all inspired to get ready for next year’s tax season? Freedom Filer is offering one label kit to one of my lucky readers. Just enter using the form below!
Thank you to Freedom Filer for giving me a free filing system to review in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Sorry, Giveaway open to US residents only.