Creative filing system increases organization and saves space

The first week of the 30-step path to financial wellness is all about getting organized.  Financial experts agree that it is important to eliminate financial clutter because it can block progress toward a clear financial path. Plus, the cost of clutter can be tremendous as well if you forget to pay bills on time, can’t find the needed paperwork to secure a loan, or subject yourself to identity theft when you accidently throw out important paperwork. If your desk is less than organized, I have a great simple solution for you.

I was watching the Today Show recently when a woman showed how you can organize your kitchen pantry using a low-cost over-the-door shoe holder—it was brilliant. So I thought it might be a good idea to take that concept into the home office.

I bought a clear plastic shoe holder for $7.99—about the same price that you’d pay for a package of file folders. It’s got space for 24 shoes, or in this case, 24 categories of paperwork. I labeled each of the pockets starting with ‘bills to be paid.’

I also labeled pockets with the months of the year. I put receipts for purchases I made during the month in their respective pockets. Now when I need a receipt to return something, I don’t have to shuffle through a year’s worth of papers that have been carelessly shoved into a shoebox.

I also created labels for donation receipts—one for cash donations and one for donations of items such as used clothing and furniture. There is also a special pocket for paperwork related to medical expenses. These pockets will be very helpful when it comes time to do my taxes.

Another pocket is for miscellaneous paperwork, such as a permission slip my daughter needs to attend the next field trip. You might also want to create pockets for paystubs.

If you have pockets left over, be sure to put them to good use! One could hold stamps, one could hold extra envelopes, and another could carry a calculator. You could even use one to collect the extra change that you’ve got weighing down your pockets.

If you’re the creative type, why not make the very most of your new storage solution by writing down a financial goal or two and taping it to the top?

I really love this organization strategy because it is so easy to maintain. Documents are in clear sight, but out of the way. And it saves me a ton of storage space—something that my old house is severely lacking.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.