How I Organize My Household’s Important Papers

January is a time when I like to get everything organized for the new year. I actually keep telling myself to start in December, but for the past three years, that hasn’t happened.

I’ve been using a filing system for the last five years to manage all my household finances and it’s been a total lifesaver. Since I haven’t created mine for 2015 yet, I thought I’d share exactly how I do it!

Don’t worry, it’s easy.

You will need:
1 box of 25 hanging file folders
1 box of 150 tabbed manila folders
A filing cabinet*
File labels (optional)

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 to a free printable checklist that shows you step by step how to organize your own system.

Azuki. What a ham!

Step 1: Prepare Your Hanging Files

Grab yourself 8 hanging folders (7 if you don’t have kids) and attach the plastic label holders to each of them. I like to space them out evenly so I can see what each one says when they’re lined up in the cabinet.


Step 2: Label Your Hanging Files

Fill each plastic label holder with the following categories:

  • Tax Info
  • Insurance
  • Credit Cards
  • Household Accounts
  • Checking/Savings
  • Other Liabilities
  • Misc
  • Children’s Accounts

I like to handwrite mine simply because it’s easier and faster for me. I’m all about convenience and on-the-go stuff.

It if makes you feel better to type them all out, then hey, by all means…

Of course, if you don’t have children, you can simply leave that folder out. I labeled mine “Aria” after my daughter to keep all her important vaccinations, medical records, and birth certificate.

Step 3: Organize Your Paperwork

If this is your first time getting your household paperwork together, then this will be a bit of a challenge, but it’s WORTH DOING!

So many people think they need to keep papers for several years, but you only need to keep the past three years on hand.

Except for taxes. Keep your tax returns for the past seven years. (If you don’t have the past seven years, don’t sweat it. If your taxes were done by a professional, just ask them for copies. If not, go as far back as you can and keep those. Don’t let this stop you from organizing your house. Seriously.)

Purge any papers that are older than three years, and separate the others into piles (electric bills, mortgage documents, water bills, vehicle titles, tax receipts, etc.).

Step 4: Label Your Files

Now look at each pile you have and create a label for each of them.

Again, I like to write labels here, but you can print them out on file labels and stick them on if you want. I just find that I continuously add files to the folders throughout the year and I like a uniformed look – either all handwritten or all printed – and I like to make things as easy as possible for myself.


Step 5: Label Your Filing Cabinet Drawers

Each drawer should be labeled with the year. The most current year should be at the top for easier access to your files. I just write the year on the blank side of an index card and cut it to size.

And that’s that! You now have a central controlled area where you can find all your important papers/documents! As each year goes by, simply transfer the folders one drawer below and use the leftover hanging files and manila folders for the next year!

Hope that helps! Happy organizing!



*Filing cabinets aren’t cheap. I found mine on Craigslist for $75 from an office that was getting rid of their furniture. Retail stores sell ‘em for over $200! Trust me. You’ll want a filing cabinet because you’ll know where all your paperwork is in the years to come.


I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

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Kara Bout It