Tips & Ideas for Organizing Your Home Files

Tips & Ideas for Organizing Your Home Files

Save Time – Be Creative – Be Productive

FREE Downloadable Customize-able Hanging File Label

Get perfect pretty labels the first time with my free downloadable file. This Excel file contains the exact size labels needed for the 1/5 cut hanging file folders. You can customize the labels to fit your needs, in the style and colors you want. The file comes with instructions and tips for quickly and creatively making your hanging file labels, leaving you more time to get to the task at hand. Read the blog post below to see how I use these labels all the time when organizing files at home and work. Enjoy!

Don’t you wish we could all be organized like those pretty pictures we see on Pinterest? You are not alone. Part of my middle age lifestyle makeover is to organize my home/business office. Oh, I always start out well and vow to keep up with my bookkeeping and filing and clean desk. Then I get distracted or other people and things need or call my attention. I feel like the squirrel dashing around from one place to another and forgetting where I left off. However, I am determined to make my cabinet pristine with a perfect filing system.

My determination comes on the heels of wanting to better track our budget and find out where we are wasting our money. I began the habit of saving every receipt for every purchase. For a year now we have made that habit a reality even my teens know to deliver their receipts to the receipt bucket for recording.

Not too long ago I also decided to use Quickbooks to take care of my business and home bookkeeping which is working pretty well and would work even better if I could streamline the process of filing all the receipts and paperwork associated with the bookkeeping. With that said the focus of today’s post will be on organizing the “Financial” drawer of my four drawer filing cabinet that I’ve had for years.  My inspiration came from Autumn over at Space for Living where she has a series of eight posts all dealing with the paper in your home.  So here it goes.

 

Step One: Decide on a Storage System

The first thing you have to decide is what you plan to store your files in, a box, a tote, a file cabinet. You have to determine that for yourself according to the amount of resources and space you have in your home. I just happen to have a four drawer filing cabinet. It is a sturdy HON cabinet that holds hanging file folders. I have had it for years and it has been in a lot of different locations around the house. Now that my daughter moved her room to the basement, I HAVE AN OFFICE (YAY!)

When deciding on a storage container or cabinet keep in mind what is going to be convenient for you and what is going to help you follow through. Below are some portable space saving options. (Affiliate Links)

 

 

Step Two: Determining What to Store in Your Files

This can be a bit overwhelming because we tend to keep everything in case we need it for future reference.  With four drawers in my cabinet I have decided to make each drawer provide a specific function – Financial, Professional, Personal, Clubs & Organizations (My husband and I lead 4-H and Boy Scouts, and are active members of an archery club). You need to decide how you want to set up your drawers, I highly recommend the first three for sure.

Step Three: Color Code Everything

I think for the most part we are all very visual people and color coding is an efficient way to quickly find files. Color coding can be anything from the color of the folders to the color of labels on the folders. I have purchased the plain green hanging file folders and decided to color code the labels. To help you save the time and hassle of creating the labels I have provided you with my free Hanging File Label template which you can download for free at the top or bottom of this post. Below are some links to some affordable folders found on Amazon. (Affiliate Links)

 

The Financial Drawer

In this post I am going to share how I arranged my Financial drawer because it is most pressing at the moment. I don’t want to get to the end of the year and suddenly its tax time and I am scrambling to play catch up on all my filing and bookkeeping. In my Financial drawer I have decided to keep everything that deals with income and expenses, basically any receipt, pay stub, or invoice that deals with money in or money out.

After that I group particular financial items together gave them a color label and arranged each section in alphabetical order.

Money IN

Bank Accounts – Green Labels
  • Checking & Savings Accounts – one folder for each checking and savings account arranged in alphabetical order by bank name then by account number.
  • If you have investment accounts this would also be a good place to keep your your monthly or quarterly statements.
Income – Blue Labels
  • Pay Stubs – One folder for each person in your house who brings home a paycheck.
  • Sewing Income – This is where I put my sales receipts. For you this could be whatever business income you generate.
  • Blogging Income – This is where I keep income reports from Blogging
  • Unemployment Income – Every winter my husband is laid off so we keep any records and filing information for unemployment in this folder.

Money OUT

When I arranged the expenses part of the financial drawer I decided to break them down into four basic groups. Necessary or Fixed Expenses (you know . . . keeping the roof over your head expenses), then Necessary but Varied Expenses such food and clothing. After that are those handful of frequently shopped retailers where receipts have purchases that go under more than one kind of expense. Finally, I grouped Business Expenses together. So my expense folders are as follows.

Keeping the Roof Over Your Head Expenses – Yellow Labels

You will notice these are arranged in alphabetical order.

  • Car Insurance – Insurance for all our vehicles
  • Cell Phones – We no longer carry a land line so cell phones have become one of our utilities
  • Electric –  We’ll keep the light on for you
  • Heat – When the wind chill is 60 below zero . . . I say heat is a necessity
  • Home Insurance – Insurance for home, lot, and personal belongings
  • Internet – Not a necessity but we don’t have cable so internet is our substitute, even then not a necessity but it is a fixed amount.
  • Life Insurance – You never know when your time is up
  • Mortgage – Shelter is the number one priority. If you rent then label your folder as such.
  • Property Taxes – We do not pay our property taxes through our mortgage
  • Student Loan – *sigh* I don’t think we will ever get this paid off YIKES
  • Water / Sewer / Garbage – for some this may be three separate expenses but ours comes on one bill to the city
Necessary Variable Expenses – Another Shade of Green Labels
  • Clothing – Kids keep growing, maybe someday I will shrink.
  • Donations – Charitable donations to organizations, tithing or church offerings
  • Entertainment – I said we didn’t have cable but we do have a Roku with Hulu, Netflix, and a few other channel subscriptions, this would include movie theater entertainment, plays, concerts, and anything else you consider fun to do.
  • Fuel – Cars don’t run on fumes
  • Food – Kids and hubby gotta eat . . . I don’t need to eat but I like to eat.
  • Household – I sort of lump all the house maintenance, home improvement, yard work, janitorial type of expenses into this folder
  • Hunting – Your probably thinking this is not a necessity but for the sake of my sanity and the deep freeze, believe me its necessary
  • Medical / Dental / Vision – On your taxes all these things are lumped together as medical expenses
  • Personal Cares – This is for haircuts, toiletries, makeup, skin care, etc. I like to keep them separate from food expenses.
  • Pets – Those silly dogs think they need to eat and have toys and go see the veterinarian.
  • School Expenses – We itemize our taxes and any school related expense my children incur are deductible on our state taxes.
  • Vehicle Maintenance / Repair – I just paid off our last vehicle this year and I am determined this is the last NEW car we buy so you can bet it is going to get regular oil changes, new tires, and washed to keep it in good working order.
Most Frequently Shopped Retailers – Pink Labels

The reason I have this group of folders is two-fold. One, when we shop at these places we usually end up buying products that fit into multiple expense categories so it is hard to decide in which file to place the receipt. Two, if I have to return an item to a particular retailer it is much easier to find the receipt for that purpose. You may not recognize some of the retailers but my list goes as follows.

  • Amazon
  • Bomgaars
  • Dollar General
  • Kmart
  • Menards
  • Shopko
  • Walmart
Business Expenses – Orange Labels

My last group of expenses are all business related expenses for both my sewing business and blog. Again this group is arranged in alphabetical order. They are expenses I can deduct on my income taxes. You will once again notice they are in alphabetical order.

  • Advertising – Any expense used to promote the sewing business or blog. This should include domain registration and web hosting.
  • Business Education – Books or courses to further my knowledge of sewing or blogging
  • Dues / Subscriptions – This is where I place any dues I have for organization or business memberships related to my business and any subscriptions I pay for that relate to my business or blog such as Canva and ConvertKit.
  • Office Equipment / Technology – Receipts for computers, printers, software, desks, shelves, chairs etc.
  • Office Supplies – The difference between supplies and equipment are that supplies are consumable and equipment can be used over and over again.
  • Postage – Stamps, shipping, PO boxes and anything related to USPS, FedEx, UPS etc.
  • Quilting Supplies – Mom and I have a longarm quilting venture so the supplies such as thread, batting and backing go here
  • Sewing Equipment / Tools – For me this covers machines, scissors, seam rippers and other things that are not consumable.
  • Sewing Supplies – Supplies for sewing that can be used up or consumed such as fabric and thread.
The Final Section – White Labels

The final section of my Financial drawer are folders for my income taxes for the previous seven years. There is one folder for each year and they are arranged with the most current one in front and the oldest one in back. They contain all the W-2’s, 1099’s, Federal and State Income Tax for the year. I put them in this drawer because taxes all relate to money in and money out.

Wow! Does this seem like a lot of work for one drawer in a filing cabinet? I am sure it does.

To help you make this process a little easier I am offering a FREE Download to help you make your own file labels which you can customize with your own font and colors if you have a color printer. Even if you don’t have a color printer you can print them onto colored paper or white paper then color them with pencils, crayons or highlighters. Instructions are included.

One Final Thought

Please don’t be discouraged or overwhelmed by the process of organizing your Financial drawer. Know that the process will get messier before it gets better. If you have to bring in another table to spread things out for a while go for it.

I found that creating the folders first was the best way to go. Then I just took handfuls of receipts at a time and filed them into their proper folder. After that I went back through each folder and put the receipts in date order with the most current in front. I also stapled each months receipts together in one bundle.

I hope this post is helpful to you. Please make comments or ask questions below.

 

But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.

1 Corinthians 14:40

 

Save Time – Be Creative – Be Productive

FREE Downloadable Customize-able Hanging File Label

Get perfect pretty labels the first time with my free downloadable file. This Excel file contains the exact size labels needed for the 1/5 cut hanging file folders. You can customize the labels to fit your needs, in the style and colors you want. The file comes with instructions and tips for quickly and creatively making your hanging file labels, leaving you more time to get to the task at hand. Read the blog post below to see how I use these labels all the time when organizing files at home and work. Enjoy!