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How to Organize Your Household Papers

Guidelines for a Filing System

When organizing your household papers, it's hard to know which papers need to be kept on hand and which can be stored in a safe-deposit box. Here are some simple guidelines:

What to File at Home...

  • Banking--check registers, extra checks, passbooks, canceled checks
  • Car titles, insurance policies, maintenance records, payment stubs
  • List of all credit cards with numbers and telephone numbers; credit card statements
  • Guarantees and warranties, including instruction pamphlets
  • House records -- insurance policy and mortgage papers; list of home improvements and receipts; lease and renter's insurance policy, if renting
  • Investment records -- 401(k), mutual fund, and broker statements
  • Medical records -- immunizations, insurance forms, insurance payments, prescriptions
  • Life insurance policies
  • Tax records --c opies of tax records for previous years and receipts for deductible expenses you plan to claim in next year's return
  • Copy of will (keep another copy at your attorney's office)

What to Store in a Safe-Deposit Box...

  • Personal papers, including birth certificates, marriage license, passports, military service records, divorce decrees
  • House deed and title
  • Financial holdings, including savings bonds, bank certificates of deposit, stock certificates
  • List of valuables (include room-by-room videotape of home, if possible)

Once you have a system in place for organizing your papers, your household will run much more efficiently. In addition, you will be better prepared to deal with the inevitable emergencies that pop up.