Quick Tip: How to Organize Your Files

Over the next three months, I’ve assigned myself the task of figuring out my and my wife’s long-term financial goals. How much money should we be saving so we can buy a house? Where should we be investing our money? Who is the right person to help us answer those questions? I’ll be writing about this topic as I learn more in the coming months – by Labor Day I should have a specific plan to share.

Consider this post a short preamble. Before I reorganize my financial life, I need to have my files in order. Fortunately, I do, with a simple system that’s worked for me since my wife and I got married. Here are the three steps to follow to implement it.

Step 1. Buy a metal file cabinet and a bunch of file folders, plus alphabetical tabs. My old desk had one drawer that functioned as a file drawer, but it isn’t as good as the real thing. A metal file cabinet is sturdy, and has enough space to allow your files to grow.

Step 2. Type out, in block letters, your file names. This might seem like a minor step, but it’s not. Use either a Brother label maker or Avery printable labels. You want something that is neat, clean and easily readable. When I first organized my files, I just wrote the file names by hand. Typing and printing them out makes a huge difference, and makes me happy each time I open up my file drawer. I can easily read and find what I am looking for.

Step 3. Be as specific as possible when creating your files. With more precise file names, you don’t have to spend as much time organizing the contents of each file – that will happen naturally. Keep separate files for each insurance policy, as well as each bank account (checking and savings).

Remember to lay documents flat in each file, and get rid of all envelopes – they’re just taking up space! With a place to file things away, staying organized will be that much easier.


  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Glenn-Evitt/100001068800522 Glenn Evitt

    Mark, could not agree more with your comments on physical organization as a first step…great pieces.

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