How nice would it be to make a paperless move? Of all the belongings that must be sorted before we move, paper may be the worst. If you’re like most people (over 40 years old, anyway), you’ve dutifully held onto cabinets and boxes full of tax records, receipts, insurance policies, bills, notifications; the list goes on and on.
Many professional organizers agree that most people keep paper far longer than they need to, and research shows that 85% of what is filed is never looked at again!
Wouldn’t it be great to eliminate, or at least dramatically minimize the amount of paper you take with you when you move to your next space? Now that most people are comfortable with electronic files and documents, it’s a great goal.
Going paper-free may take an investment in time and scanning, but making the effort now to consolidate all of your paper and develop new habits to keep your digital files organized will save you a ton of time, worry and shelf space in your future.
Bethesda MD- based professional organizer Penny Catteral of Order Your Life has many years of experience helping her clients downsize their paper before they move. She offers these practical tips for both reducing the volume of paper in your and preserving necessary documents as well.
Tips for going paperless before a move:
- Go through your files and shred old bills that have to do with your current home, such as utilities or landscaping. You can keep the current year if you don’t have online access to your bills through the company’s website.
- Do the same for credit card statements, unless you need to keep them for tax records.
- If you don’t have online access to your bank and financial statements, you can shred any that more than 2 years old. If you really want to keep long-term records in paper, just keep the year-end statements for each account.
- Make sure to keep records of any improvements you’ve made to your home since you bought it. Read here to see the difference between repairs and improvements and the latest tax laws on this topic.
- It is generally agreed that you only need to keep 3 to 7 years-worth of tax documents. Here is a great article that tells you specifically how long to keep your tax backup, and none of it has to be in paper as the IRS accepts documents and receipts in digital format.
- If you have access to a fast document scanner such as the Fujitsu ScanSnap, Penny suggests scanning any documents you think you might need access to in the future, and putting them in a digital filing system on your computer (backed up) or in the cloud.
- Sign up for online access and go paperless on as many accounts as you can. Getting your bills and statements online will not only help you avoid the hassle of having your mail forwarded, but also will leave you with less paper to pack and move.
Does your backlog of paper make you feel overwhelmed? It may be helpful to engage an experienced professional organizer or daily money manager to help you both get your current paper under control and also set up new systems for managing all of your paper in a digital format.
We’ll take it from here. Get in touch to connect with paper management professionals in your area.