Now that you’ve got your filing system set up and your action items in their proper places, it’s time for maintenance. Some tips on maintaining your filing system:

Monthly Calendar
  • If you have temporary files, file them by month and year, which allows for quick archiving.
  • Purge your files regularly—I recommend at least annually.
  • File at least weekly, more often if you are a paper-intensive home.

Document Retention

How do you know what to hang on to, and what to shred? Different documents have different expiration dates.


Permanent: These things should be kept forever, like your social security card.

Lifetime: Keep this paperwork for the life of the item. Ownership documents like car titles and deeds belong in this category.

Temporary: Keep this paperwork according to their document retention guidelines, like supporting tax documents, medical records, and receipts. Consult the IRS, DMV, your insurance company, your CPA, and lawyers for the most accurate information on document retention. You can use our guide as a starting point, but please consult your professionals to confirm the specifics for your situation.

Using these maintenance strategies will help keep your paperwork to a minimum, so you can find what you need when you need it.

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