OMG where does everything go? We’re talking storage today!
When I was a child I remember my aunt making my mother a beautiful box. It was black and she’d adorned it with all manner of ceramic flowers, candle stones, decorative pearls, costume jewellery, etc. It really was a gorgeous box. But the most important thing about this box was written on the top…. “A Special Place” Those words were so true for my mother. Over the years she had garnered a bit of a reputation. She was always putting important things away in ‘a special place’, only to forget where that place is. We lost our birth certificates, my brand new digital camera that she thought I was too young for at the time, and more! We found them all again a few years later, but it was very stressful at the time not to mention expensive! Replacing things is expensive and time consuming. It’s even worse when you know that you have it somewhere. Once she started using her special box, we didn’t lose anything important again. This idea stuck with me like magic. As I grew up, I bought myself “A Special Cabinet” where I kept 7 years of everything. However now a lot of my documentation is stored online. Whether real or virtual, you’ll need a place to store important documents too. Here’s the tip though – only file something away once it has been actioned. Don’t file away new bills with the plan to come back to them just in time. Deciding: It’s OK to throw away receipts from everyday purchases once you’re satisfied you won’t need to return it. (It’s not law that you need to hold onto your receipts, but it makes everyone’s life easier) Keep documentation relating to long-term items, such as
course grades and certificates
pay slips (though many of these are delivered electronically these days)
service contracts (phone, pay tv, etc)
car servicing history
When in doubt, save it—or at least make a copy. Physical: For basic bills and documents, look into a small filing cabinet or a simple accordion file. Make separate folders for documents for education, bank and service providers. As you put things away, sort them by age so it’s easy to keep the relevant documentation at the front. The only issue with accordion files is I have seen 15years worth of documents stored in them, and then the new items stacked on top. If that’s you, then I would opt for the cabinet where you can more easily find and discard old documents. Electronic: If you feel comfortable, look into setting up a system on your computer or on cloud storage. Save electronic files to specific folders and clearly date them. You can scan or take pictures of paper documents and upload them (don’t email them to yourself – email cannot be fully secured). Be sure to back up your files on an external hard drive so you don’t lose them if your computer dies. There are some things I personally only keep in hard-copy: birth certificates, bank statements that show all numbers, etc. Things like phone bills, statements and such, I keep encrypted online. Discarding: For security purposes, you should use a diamond shredder (that’s a shredder that creates a diamond shape instead of the usual strips) or proper destruction. A friend of mine uses her old documents to help get her fireplace going. Identity theft is very real, and you need to protect it as much as you can. Don’t throw out full sensitive documents in your recycling bin. It’s just not safe. The most important thing is that you know where to look when you need something. Create yourself a special place and never lose an important document again.
Speak soon, Erika Gilbert
My Income Organiser