Overcome Boredom by Organizing your Paperwork

In addition to being the month when we celebrate our nation’s independence, July is also National Anti-Boredom Month. Occurring in mid-summer, July is that ‘in-between’ month when most graduation celebrations are completed and it is a little too early to be thinking about your kids going back to school.

Many suggestions are made each year to overcome July boredom, mostly outdoor activities such as camping in the back yard and neighborhood barbeques. This is all great in areas where the weather is comfortable, but what about towns such as Phoenix and Las Vegas when being outdoors on a hot July day is like sitting in a sauna.

When the weather outside is just too hot to handle, a great indoor activity to overcome July boredom is organizing your paperwork. Now, getting your papers in order is probably not your idea of a great time, so this activity will work best if you focus on the end result; a cleaner and better organized life. In addition, the more organizing you do now, the less you have to worry about during the end-of-year holiday season when you should be focused on time with your family and not trying to get your bookkeeping in order before the years end.

Paperwork to Throw Away: When you start organizing your paperwork, you first want to identify any and all paperwork you want to shred. With so much clutter in our lives today and so much of our transactions recorded electronically, there is far more paperwork to get rid of than ever before. Right off the bat, you can shred bank deposit statements, ATM receipts, and receipts for minor purchases.

These are all backed up online anyway, so once you have verified their accuracy, there is no reason to keep a paper copy. Many banks and merchants now have the option of emailing the receipt; you may want to take advantage of this to reduce the accumulation of paper in the first place. When it comes to mortgage, auto loan, credit card, bank statements, and check stubs, you only need to hold these monthly statements until you receive the year-end summary statement.

Paperwork to Keep: You should keep at least a month’s worth of your statements and shred all previous months, then keep the annual summary statement as long as you hold the account. This keeps your paperwork to a minimum and helps ensure that your filing cabinet will not collapse under the weight of all those monthly statements. Tax returns should be kept for seven years in the event of an audit and of course, vital records such as birth certificates, Social Security cards, and passports should be kept indefinitely.

How to Store your Paperwork: There are many ways you can store your paper records today. As mentioned earlier, you can choose to receive email receipts and create folders in your email box for these receipts. You can also scan your documents into your computer to save room in your file cabinet. However, even with these electronic options, it is recommended that you maintain paper copies of at least your most important records such as tax returns. You may also choose to house your vital records in a safe deposit box to protect them in case of fire.

This is a general guide to what you should keep and throw away when organizing your paperwork. However, these guidelines can change if your tax life is more complicated. For example, if you are self-employed, there are a number of tax deductions you have available such a home office, travel, entertainment, and many others. To take advantage of these deductions, you must keep accurate records. Speak to your local accountant about the best way to organize these records so you can maximize your tax savings without ending up on the wrong side of the IRS.

Scroll to Top