The ABCs of Filing

Do you know where your phone bill is? How about your health insurance policy? If you’re like most people, it’s probably swimming in a stack of papersâÂ?¦ somewhere.

Make your life simpler by using a very basic filing system. This one’s as easy as ABC: the Active, Business, and Cold Storage Filing System. This system will allow you to file your important papers quickly and find specific documents easily. All you need to do is set up three types of files.


Also known as working files, Active Files contain information on current or pending activities and miscellaneous papers which require some type of action. This file would include such things as current unpaid bills, correspondence, and time sensitive items such as sales flyers or PTA notices.

Keep Active Files in an accordion file or a portable file box so the papers are easily accessible.

Review items in your Active File once a week.

Remember to move a bill from your Active File to your Business File after you pay it.


Business Files are your household’s working filing system. These files should include bank statements, current insurance policies, paid bills, medical information, this year’s pay stubs, and other current tax information.

Keep these files in hanging folders in your filing cabinet or filing cart.

These files should be reviewed once or twice a year. Weed out all outdated information.


Cold Storage Files hold all of your long-term documents. These files should contain copies of previous tax returns, warranties on items you still own, legal documents, and medical, home, and automobile records.

Place these files in a home fire safe or safe-deposit box. Review the information as needed or when there are only reruns of your favorite shows on television.


Pay stubs after checking your w2 form at the end of the year.

All expired warranties and any manuals to items you no longer own.

Cancelled checks and store receipts which are unrelated to a major purchases or needed for taxes.

ATM receipts after checking the transaction against your bank statement.


It is a known fact that 80% of what you file will never be looked at again. As you pick up each paper ask yourself:

Do I really need this information? If yes, why?

Can I easily find this information elsewhere if I need it?

Is this information timely, accurate, and reliable?

Can I identify the specific circumstances when I would want information?

What’s the worst thing that could happen if I threw this paper away?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

nine − 6 =