How To Organize Household Paperwork

How To Organize Household Paperwork    Organizing your household paperwork might not be on your list of favorite things to do, but it can really prevent a lot of stress if you can quickly find that “one” important piece of paper when you need it. It took me years to figure out that a simple household file system could really be easy to set up and maintain.  

     Since you probably dislike organizing paperwork as much as going to the dentist, I am giving you a simple system that I have started using for getting all my household paperwork organized and keeping it that way. Start by setting aside an hour or two to catch up on all your loose papers, and then maintaining it from there should be pretty easy. 

  1. First, make a quick trip to your local discount store and buy plastic storage containers. You’ll need one for each year, so if you have a couple years’ worth of papers to organize, you’ll need two or three containers. Make sure the size is big enough for manilla folders to fit. Oh, by the way, buy some manilla folders. Also, you’ll need a good pen for labeling your files. If you don’t have a fireproof box for important documents yet, I highly recommend that you invest in one now. I’ll have a list of what to put in that coming up.
  2. After you get home, take all your loose papers that you’ve got stashed around the house in random piles and get ready to separate them out. The best way to do this is on a big empty space, such as a kitchen table.
  3. Now, with all these papers, you’re now going to separate them into categories. Start a pile for each category. Take each piece of paper and put in the category where it belongs. It sounds time-consuming, but once you get going on this, it’s easy to get through all your papers quickly. Also, have a pile of papers that can be thrown away. Also be sure to keep separate piles for each category according to the year.
  4. After getting through all papers, label a manilla folder for each category. Then, put each category of papers in the labeled folder. Then all the folders go in a storage container according to the year. I also like to keep the files alphabetized. That makes it much easier when looking for something.


     Here are some examples of categories to have in your filing system.

  • Auto
  • Bank statements
  • Credit card statements
  • Employment pay stubs
  • House information
  • Insurance information (Dental, Medical)
  • Kids (Medical and shot records)
  • Manuals for major appliances
  • Medical information
  • Mortgage 
  • Pet records
  • Receipts (for big-ticket items)
  • Tax return information
  • Utility statements
  • Vacation information


     Now, for the fireproof box, you’ll need a filing system for the super-important documents. Just imagine what you would desperately need if you had a fire and lost everything. Please use this list as a guide, but feel free to add in other things you would absolutely want and need.

  • Auto: titles, financing account numbers and contact numbers, and spare keys
  • Banking information, such as account numbers and contact phone numbers
  • Birth certificates: original copies for all family members
  • Credit card account numbers and phone numbers, in case they’re lost or stolen
  • Diplomas: high school and college
  • Insurance policies: life, homeowner’s, auto, and agent names and phone numbers for each. Also, keep a household inventory with pictures for homeowner’s insurance, in case of fire.
  • Mortgage: account number and mortgage company name and phone number
  • Passports
  • Social security cards
  • Retirement and investment account numbers and agent names and phone numbers
  • Photos: digital copies of family photos
  • Safety deposit box keys
  • Warranty paperwork
  • Wills


     Now, you should have a file set up for each year and a special fireproof box for more important papers. Now, you’ve got to have a system for maintaining it or you’ll be back to the original mess you started with. I like to keep this simple, so I just have a separate folder that I put loose papers in, then on a regular basis, I go through them and put them in the correct file. You could do this daily, weekly, or even once a month. The point is to have a home for every piece of paper that you feel you need to keep. That way, it’s easy to find whenever you need it.

     I hope this helps. Just put on some music, take a little time to set up your files, and you’re all set! For more home organizing projects, be sure to check out my Home Organizing Plan For The Year.

Till next time, have a wonderful day!


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