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Blog: Surfing the Paper Wave
What's in My Document Files?-Part 2

You're joining us in the midst of a discussion of document files, one of the three super-categories found in most home file systems. Document files detail the events, major and routine, in the life of your household.  They include such categories as certificates for major life events, home and car purchase paperwork, banking and investment materials, and documents related to your health, education and employment.   To provide an illustrative example, last week I shared the contents of my household's first of two document file drawers, which contains the files for our most heavily trafficked categories:  taxes, credit card statements and receipts, manuals and warranties, and education. 
This week, I will describe file drawer #2, which contains official documents, health history, home & auto maintenance, insurance, and money matters.  Each category has its own hanging file folder, with subcategories in manila folders inside.
Official Documents – This category contains a manila folder for personal documents, as well as separate folders for documents pertaining to our home, cars, cemetery plot, and business matters we oversee for ageing parents.  At first our personal documents – birth certificates, passports, Social Security cards, marriage license—were all jumbled together in this one folder.  This made it difficult to find specific documents when needed, so I introduced one clear sheet protector envelope apiece for each family member's individual documents, labeled them, and tucked them into the manila folder.
The home file contains the deed to our house plus all the documents related to its mortgage and settlement.  The auto file includes titles and duplicate copies of each registration (which I request as part of our annual renewal), extended warranty certificates and our EZPass contract. Filed in the cemetery folder is the deed to our plot, the contract for our headstone, cemetery rules and regulations, and the documents related to the funeral of our third child, who passed away in 2000.  Finally, there is a folder for my mother-in-law and one for my father with different documents they have generated related to pensions, the deaths of their spouses and the like.
Health History – Here you'll find one manila folder apiece for my husband, me, our four children, my mother-in-law and my father.  They contain medical test results, pediatric record books for each child, our daughter Emily's autopsy results (she died of a brain tumor), Weight Watcher records for me and my other daughter, prescription drug descriptions and order blanks, and Internet discussions of various health issues that affect us.
Home & Auto Maintenance – This hanging folder contains three manila subfolders: for our house, our cars, and our pets.  We save the receipts and invoices for any major work done on our home and cars. This not only gives a useful history when future problems arise, it also provides a way to look up contractors and repair facilities we liked, and it captures improvements made to our home for the eventual day when we sell it.  The pet folder got added this past Christmas with the arrival of "Spike," our nine-year-old's guinea pig, and contains his bill of sale, health guarantee, and care instructions.
Insurance – Six manila folders fill this hanging file, each containing the current policy for our home, cars, medical and dental, roadside assistance, life insurance for my husband, and the same for me.  Every time a new policy comes, I compare it to its predecessor and shred the older one.  However, if we have changed carriers, as happened in January with our medical insurance, I save the last policy from the old carrier for one year
Money Matters – This category contains the paperwork documenting our employer benefits, our investments and our Social Security earnings credited each year.  We have a fourth folder labeled "Money-Other" which contains random financial items like our annual credit report, our mortgage amortization schedule and our county tax assessment.
I hope this exhaustive (but hopefully not exhausting!) description of my family's document files has given you some ideas for handling your family's official paperwork.  Again, I invite you to share your ideas and ask questions through the Blog Comments section of this site.  The registration is really easy, and then you'll have the freedom to participate in our forum any time you want.

posted on: 3/23/2008 10:30:00 AM by Suzanne Kuhn
category: Paper

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Surfing the Paper Wave

by Suzanne Kuhn

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About Suzanne:

Suzanne Kuhn is the owner of ACE ORGANIZING, offering affordable, customized, energizing organizing solutions to homes, schools and small businesses in the five-county Philadelphia area and central New Jersey. Although an organizing generalist, (she'll organize anything!) Suzanne has a growing specialty in paper and electronic filing systems and financial organizing. To receive her FREE booklet, 50 TOP TIME MANAGAGEMENT TIPS, email her at [email protected]

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