Finances, Home Life, Office Work, Organizing, Paperwork

How I organize paperwork

You guys, I LOVE organizing- almost everything and anything. Mementos, pictures, clothes, holiday decorations, all of it…. except paperwork. I HATE organizing paperwork. Probably because I’m a bit anal retentive so I get all confused and jumbled up in my head. Like, “Does this piece of car insurance paperwork go in the insurance category, or does it go in the car category? Or! maybe I should make a copy of it and put it in both?!…. no that’s stupid… maybe I should write it down in the insurance category, and file it in the car category?….”

As you can see, this gets quite confusing and I spend most of my time trying to figure out what to do with the paperwork instead of actually doing it. It’s a mess. and not fun. Not usually two words that describe me while I’m organizing.

So I switched to something that worked for me. That wasn’t messy, and was fun-ish (I still don’t love this as much as other organizing, but I love how it turns out, and that makes up for it). I switched to scanning my documents and filing them electronically.

I started with a simple Xcel document, and having columns for each category, and linking my documents to certain cells in the Xcel document, but this was also a bit complicated, and unless you’re an actual pro at Xcel, really not worth your time.

So, I started a search for a simple, preferably free, and easy application I can download on my computer to track my bills and paperwork. What I was looking for was a place where I could attach documents to information that I put in, and also assign categories to  things like “car maintenance” and “car insurance” and “medical bills” and I found it! The application “Debit & Credit” is available on apple computers, is free, super straightforward, and does everything I need it to!

Now, I should say here that Debit & Credit is originally designed to help people keep track of their finances, but it doesn’t hook up to your bank. I reached out to them about this, and the creator of the app isn’t comfortable with that type of extension for fear of hacking and people’s financial life being leaked, which is fair. So, since this is set up to help people keep track of finances, there’s a couple extra features on this application that I don’t use. The main purpose behind me using this is to store my paperwork easily, retrieve said paperwork easily, and total up bill amounts quickly. I like going to my lawyer/accountant during tax season and when he asks “how much did you spend on medical expenses last year?” I can give him an exact amount, down to the penny, just from clicking a few things on my computer.

So, enough of a prelude! Now, what do you do?!

My series of steps is fairly simple-

  1. Scan your documents.
    I take all applicable documents and scan them into my computer. Every medical bill that comes, electric, water, internet, car repair, insurance, you name it- if it’s a bill that’s even semi-important, scan it (it only takes about 45 seconds to do each bill, so if you end up never looking at it again, no big deal). Then name it and save it to a specific folder on your computer. Doesn’t really matter what the name is, you only have to remember the name for another 12 seconds.
  2. List bill in Debit & Credit.
    When you go to record a transaction in D&C, you need the bill amount, obviously, and then it asks for a description (I leave this part blank), a category, a date, what account it’s coming out of (reminder that this is supposed to be used to track your finances), and then it has a big box with a plus sign in it. That’s where you click to attach the document you just scanned. I put each bill into a category, whether that’s water, electric, medical, or insurance (they even have subcategories, so you can have a bill be in insurance AND a specific car insurance category! yay!). I also like to add the check number in the note section, since I pay a lot of my bills with checks. I know I’m old school, but I love it, plus I support my local USPS.

And that’s it! Repeat until all your bills are completed 🙂

I will suggest that you do not save all your bills to do this at once. Last year I got super behind from being pregnant, and then moving, and then having a baby,… I ended up with 9 months worth of bills to scan, so I just quit and started fresh in 2020. I try to do this once a month, usually on a day that I track our finances and pay bills, sometimes I can get to it every two weeks. Just make sure you stay on top of it, otherwise you’ll have a huge stack of paper just sitting in your office drawer haunting you.

Hope this helps all you super organized people, and especially those of you who are not organized, but want a system that will be sustainable and simple. Plus, your accountant will be so impressed when he asks for tax deductible expenses and you can rattle off a number to him like an actual professional 🙂

 

 

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