Tuesday, March 25, 2014

An Easy Guide to File Organization

Nothing stresses me out like trying to find an important document and having no clue where it is, which is why I am a little OCD when it comes to filing paperwork. Before I got married I didn't really have any files to worry about, then one day BOOM...we were on our own :) Then came marriage documents, new health insurance, new car insurance, new financial documents, new house, new bills, etc. etc. You may not think that knowing exactly where to find a particular piece of paper is that important, but I can assure you that sometimes IT IS.

Once I realized my little plastic file organizer was no longer doing the job, I invested in this pretty white filing cabinet from Target, and I love it!

See it here

Then of course you have to buy the hanging folders to go with it. I really like the colored ones, but I don't think I could ever bring myself to spend $35 for a box of 25, so I went with the typical green Target brand. Much better deal!

Get them here

You also need file folders to go into the hanging files. Again, it's much cheaper to stick with the basics on this one.

Get them here
 And of course, labels!

Get them here
Now for the most time-consuming part...sorting your paperwork. For those of you that are already slightly organized, this shouldn't be too bad. But for those of you that have papers everywhere, this may take you a little longer. I promise it's worth it!

Here are the major categories I used and possible subcategories that would fall under each one:


Important Documents

  • Social Security Cards
  • Passports
  • Birth Certificates
*I keep our social security cards and passports in a small photo book to be sure they don't slip out of the file.


  • Marriage License
  • Wedding Ring Insurance
  • Name Change Documents


  • Student loans
  • Transcripts


  • Resumes
  • Hiring Documents
  • Company Information
  • Paystubs


  • Purchase Information
  • Registration Papers
  • Immunization Records 


  • Car Insurance
  • Car Payments
  • Maintenance Receipts
  • Tolls
  • Traffic Violations

Health Insurance

  • Insurance Information
  • Primary Insurance Claims
  • Secondary Insurance Claims


  • Flexible Spending Account
  • Prescription/Medical ID Cards
  • Office Invoices and Receipts (separate file for each office you visit)


  • Dental Insurance Information
  • Office Invoices and Receipts (separate file for each office you visit)


  • Retirement Accounts
  • Life Insurance Policies
  • Wills
  • Taxes by Year
Obviously if you have kids, then you will accumulate even more files! I  recommend having a separate drawer or file box designated for each child. I love this system from a bowl full of lemons! One box for school documents and another for medical files, etc. would be perfect!

The second drawer of the filing cabinet is all paperwork for our house. These are the categories and possible subcategories for these files. 

 Home Bills

  • Mortgage
  • Electric
  • Gas
  • Water/Waste
  • Cable/Internet

Home Improvement

  • Home Improvement Receipts
  • Paint/Color References

HOA & Taxes

  • Homeowner's Association Documents
  • Property Tax Documents


  • Homeowner's Insurance


  • Home Warranty Documents

Purchase Documents

  • Offer on House
  • Contract
  • Inspection
  • Appraisal
  • Title
  • Closing Documents

Most of our files are letter size, but there are a few house documents that are legal size and do not fit in the file cabinet. For these, you can use a legal size storage box like this one from the Container Store.

If I am in a hurry and don't have time to file something right away, I have a magazine file that I use as my "To File" holder. This helps keep papers from accumulating in different areas of the house when you are rushed!

Even if it took you a while to organize your files, I know that it will save you a ton of time in the big scheme of things. No more wasting time looking for a piece of paper! This system works great for us, and I hope it is helpful to you too!

Click here to see how we organize our bill paying!


Linking up:


  1. Love this idea! Cannot wait to use this post as a resource when I move into my apartment this summer!

  2. Stephanie, you are so smart to start out with an organization system!! This one is such a great idea, easy to set up and completely manageable! Thanks so much for sharing your idea at Best of the Nest!

  3. Great ideas! I would love it if you joined and contribute your awesome posts at my link party at City of Creative Dreams on Fridays :D Hope to see you there at City of Creative Dreams Link Party