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De-Clutter Bug Newsletter

File Clean Up

January, 2012


in this issue
Sorting Paper
What to Keep
What to Purge
Clever Container - New Catalog
Disposing of Old TV's and Computers


Welcome to 2012!  What a great opportunity to start fresh, create new habits, start organizing and creating a life that is less stressful and simpler! 


This month, which is officially GO (Get Organized) Month is the perfect time to start cleaning out those file cabinets. 


Did you know that an average 4 drawer file cabinet holds up to 18,000 pieces of paper and that 80% of what you keep you never look at again. 


This is a big topic because there is a lot of paper floating around in our lives so we will take this topic and break it down over the next two newsletters. 

In this edition, we will take a look at sorting the paper, what to keep, and what to purge. 

In February's newsletter we will talk about how to set up your files so you can file smarter in 2012,  because who wants to go through 18,000 pieces of paper to find the paper you need! 

 In March we will discuss organizing medical records and bills. 

Sorting Through the Paper


       The first step in any filing system is sorting through all the paper! 


 Don't try and do this all in one sitting.  Set aside a realistic period of time and attack what you can during that time.   Sometimes you even have to schedule the time like you would a doctor's appointment.  SET ASIDE THE TIME.


Take a stack at a time and one piece of paper at a time.  Decide what to do with each piece of paper before moving to the next piece of paper. 


Take a look at each piece of paper and decide if you are holding on to this piece of paper out of fear, habit, indecision or lack of knowledge about whether or not to keep it.


Then ask yourself these questions about the paper:

Is the information outdated?

Is there another way I can easily obtain this information?

Is the information still relevant to my current life?

What is the worst thing that will happen if I get rid of it?

(Creel - 2009)



What to Keep

Now we move on to the task of deciding what to keep and where it should be kept.   As you know, this information is changing as we move more and more into an electronic filing society.  There are currently ways of scanning these documents to store them on your computer, with back up, but I will cover that information in another newsletter.  Also, if you have already discarded any of these items, don't panic; most of them can be obtained in other ways. 


I have put together a brief, but comprehensive list of suggested items to keep and for how long.  It doesn't matter whether or not you keep the papers in these suggested places or not, the most important thing is that you know where they are and can access these items easily.   I always suggest speaking to an accountant or financial advisor about his/her advice on keeping financial records.


            Safety Deposit Box             

 Or Fire Proof Box

(Rarely Needed Documents)

These documents you never discard

Divorce Decrees


Veteran Papers

Adoption Papers

Citizenship Papers 

Military Discharge Papers


Fire Proof and Burglar Resistant Safe

(Documents You Need Occasionally)

These documents you never discard

Birth Certificate

Death Certificate

Cemetery Deeds


Guardianship Agreements

Marriage Certificates

Social Security Card

Retirement Plans


Fire Proof and Burglar Resistant Safe

(Documents You Need Occasionally)

Discard as suggested


Real Estate Deeds  - Shred 10 years after property sold 

Passport - Shred after new one issued

Powers of Attorney - Shred after new one signed

Stock/Bond Certificates - Shred after sold

Vehicle Titles - Shred after sold

Trusts - Shred after new one signed

Wills - Shred after new one signed

Credit Report - Shred after new one is received

Financial Statements - Shred when new one is received

Receipts - Expensive Items - Shred after item is sold (if donated keep with Tax Return information)


Locked Filing Cabinet

Discard as suggested


College Financial Aid - Shred 10 years after loan repaid

Insurance policies -Shred after new ones come in each year or a year after replacing

Loan Statements - Shred 10 years after loan is repaid

Property Tax Assessment - Shred after new one arrives

Social Security Statement - Shred after new one arrives

Vehicle Registration (copy - original should be kept in car) - Shred after new one arrives

Vehicle Repairs - Discard after vehicle is sold

Bank Statements - Shred after seven years

Credit Card Statements - Shred after seven years (only if they contain tax related information)

Home Purchases/Improvements - Shred seven years after selling home

Tax Returns and Supporting Documents - Shred seven years after filing date


*******According to Suze Orman, you only need to keep Bank Statements, Tax Returns, any other Tax Related Documentation and Annual Investment Statements for 3 years. That is why I suggest speaking to a Financial Professional before getting rid of any tax related or financial documents. *******


Keeping any old or outdated records only serves to confuse those that have to come behind you and deal with your files.  Keeping files current with the most up to date information keeps you from being overwhelmed by paper, makes your information easy to find and makes it easy on family members to find good accurate information if and when it is needed. 

What to Purge
So what can you get rid of?  


Unless you need these for tax deduction purposes, I suggest getting rid of monthly bills after they have been paid or after you receive the next bill to confirm receipt of payment. 


Monthly bills can include: Utility, Cable, Power, Gas, Phone, Lawn Maintenance Services (except for landscaping improvements), or Exterminator Services.  Should you need any information, it can be obtained through the computer or a phone call.  


I have been doing this for several years and have only had one reason to call someone about some information that I needed and it was all taken care of very easily by phone. 


You can also purge a lot of receipts.  Purge those grocery sales receipts and sales receipts for items you can no longer take back or the warranty has expired.


I hope this helps to clear up how to sort through your paper and decide what to keep and what can go.   Next month we will talk about filing the hopefully much smaller stack of paper you need to file. 

If you have a question about a particular piece of paper or document, that I did not address, feel free to e-mail me or call me and I will get your question answered. 


Be patient, do a little at a time and you will suddenly be in control of your files instead of them controlling you! 



Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

St. Francis of Assisi


Happy De-Cluttering!



Great ideas for organizing all types of things in your closets, your car, your refrigerator, your garage, your kitchen and just about any room in your house!
Do you see some great products that you would like to buy? 
Have a home party or a catalog party and receive your choice of items free as well as half-price items! 
Peggy's Featured Product of the Month
Gear Pockets
Whether it's sports equipment, gardening gear, or car washing supplies, these gear pockets will help organize your garage.  They can hang from the studs in the garage wall or hang from your existing shelves. Now selling for only $29.95. 
Contact me at 252.670.2951 for more information about parties and check out my website to see all the great products.
                      Disposing of Old TV's and Computers in New Bern
If you need to dispose of an old TV or Computer, the landfill now has a container for that purpose.  The landfill is located at 7400 Old Hwy. 70 West and the hours are 7:30-4:30 m-f and 7:30-2 Saturday. Our # is 252-633-1564.  
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