If the thought of buying a new house makes you want to dive under the duvet, you're not alone. It's among the top 20 most stressful life events on the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory. In the midst of the hectic mess, it is easy to become overwhelmed and overlook important factors that are less immediate, like all of those important documents you've been stuffing in drawers for years.
If you are in the market to purchase a home, there are a few things you can do to simplify and organize all of your important documents. And this will be one less thing to worry about when the time comes to close.
Keep it simple
Come up with a filing organization system that works for your specific needs. The filing system that you decide upon, whether it be alphabetical or chronological, should be easy for you to use and remember. One of the most notable mistakes of would-be filers is using too many categories. You won't need an entire folder or file for Havarti cheese; however, a folder dedicated to grocery spending will be well-used and can be divided into further categories later if need be.
Designate specific colors for each of your general categories, such as blue for automotive expenses and green for home expenses. Then, instead of cramming too many categories into your filing system, use different shades of the same color to help classify sub-categories. So, aqua would designate car repairs within the blue category, while navy signifies auto insurance. Likewise, lime could indicate mortgage payments while mint serves as the home warranties. Using variant colors of files, tabs or labels not only makes your filing system efficient and files easy to find, but also creates a nice artistic visual, which sure beats the piles of disheveled papers found on many a desk.
Some documents are more valuable than others and require special care. Among your categories, add a difficult to replace folder. For these documents, such as birth certificates, passports, wills, marriage certificates and Social Security cards, get a fireproof lock-box or lockable file cabinet. Yes, with this organization method you are putting all of your eggs in one basket, but at least that basket can withstand a fire.
For everything else that doesn't require keeping the hard-copy originals, the neatest, most space-saving and headache-minimizing method of storing your files is to go digital. You cannot beat the convenience of having a file available at the click of a button. If it is not already digitized, scan it. Storing all of your digital files can consume a huge amount of memory, though, so an optimal option to save virtual space is to use a cloud server. Although your information will be out there in cyber space, there are cloud storage providers who offer data encryption for those documents that contain ultra-sensitive material, like Social Security numbers and credit scores. But, you have to do your research to find the best provider for your storage needs. To compare the top cloud storage providers on the market, Top10cloudstorage.com is an excellent resource.
Expand in style
Keep in mind that there will always be more papers, files and categories to add in the future. So, make sure your filing system allows for easy expansion. Standard filing cabinets are boxy, drab and fill up quickly. Consider having some flat-bottom tote bags on hand to quickly store additions and add some decor to your desk. These totes are inexpensive, perfectly sized for files and when the time finally comes to move — they're portable.
All things considered, when you're busy trying to organize your home, the last thing you need is to have to dig through stacks and piles of paperwork to find your necessary documents. Get your files in order, and the rest will follow.