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How To Set Up An Easy-To-Use Filing System


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Extra paperwork and less time to take care of it are often a part of life with a serious illness. To minimize the amount of time and energy you have to spend on paperwork, it is worthwhile to set up a home filing system. Once it's set up, a good filing system will help you stay on top of bills and personal matters with a minimum of effort.

There is no right or wrong way to set up a filing system. The two keys to a good filing system are:

  • Use your system consistently.
  • Make it easy enough for other people to understand it in case they need to access papers or pay bills for you. Consider attaching to your files a summary of how the system works in case someone else has to use your system if you can't or if you're traveling.

Rather than be overwhelmed by trying to get totally organized at once, decide which areas are most important to organize. Then set time lines for each area in order of priority.

If you do not have a filing system, we describe three easy ones in the other sections of this article. The first divides your files into "active" and "inactive." The second is a simple "Shoe Box" method. This third is an even simpler "In/Out" Box method.

Once you have a system, the next question is what files to keep, and which to discard. For instance, keep tax records for the last three years. On the other hand, get rid of expired warranties.

If you would prefer someone else to handle your bills and other personal matters for you, consider asking a friend or family member. If no one is available, consider hiring a Daily Money Manager.

For ideas about how to organize dealing with medical bills, see: Keeping Track Of Your Claims For Medical Bills: A Simple Method.

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