Organizing Paper Records


Current file system

When we lived in the house, I had file drawer that was 55 cm deep. It was mostly full, and I went through it yearly to discard outdated stuff. When I moved, I was able to get rid of a lot of house related papers including my mortgage repayment instructions and the warranties for the house appliances. In the photo is the current file box, and an envelope for previous tax records.

Here is the system: each topic gets a hanging folder, and for many subjects that is all that is needed.  The automobile records don’t need any more organization. I toss in the maintenance receipts, the insurance coverage documents as they accumulate. During my yearly purge, I take out the outdated ones. Some topics need a bit more organization. The Money folder has three subdivisions (the manila colored folders): one for the credit card, one for the credit union accounts and one for retirement accounts.

The folder with my name has things like my birth certificate, my nursing license, my current item count. I used to have a folder for each of the kids with subdivisions of things like school, medical history, birth certificates and social security cards. As each child has turned twenty-one, I have given the contents of the folder to the young adult, who must then manage his or her own papers.

You may notice a folder titled Death. This folder holds my will, my Health Care Power of Attorney, my Do Not Resuscitate form, a brief set of instructions of what to do with my body and music I would like played at my memorial service. It also contains a letter to my children with money information, how to access the accounts. This letter I update each year, usually around New Year’s Day. Each of my children knows where this information is kept, so they can find it easily when I die.

Some of you will argue for a safe deposit box, or a fire-proof box to keep at home. If you desire these things, go right ahead. I have found I have no need for my marriage license or divorce degree, but they are available at the county courthouse, should I ever need a copy. I have been able to get new copies of documents like a Passport or a birth certificate, when they were destroyed by fire. I mostly hold onto papers that I might need to reference in the coming year or two.

The tax papers I save for seven years. When I file a new year, I destroy the oldest one.

I don’t think I will ever get rid of all papers–I like writing in a paper journal, I find balancing my checkbook easier with a paper statement of the account. But I do feel a bit lighter each time I recognize I no longer need something.

The State of Sheba

Sheba is dismantled and now in three basic components: a pile of metal scrap


the thing in front is the floor rolled up

the trailer base


Stripped to the bones

and a pile of rotten wood and plastic, fit only for the landfill


what a mess

I hope to get the piles out of my host’s garage within the month. The trailer and the metal can be recycled and I will get a dumpster for the trash.

2017 Count: 83 Items


11 personal care items. I count the toothpaste/toothbrush/floss as one item. I use the shampoo as soap and shaving lubricant.

Long time readers of this blog are aware that I count my possessions each year in June. This year, my kids are moving into their own places. As they leave, they take their stuff with them. Even more exciting, is that they are taking a lot of our formerly shared stuff too. Furniture, kitchen items, décor have all been spoken for.


My closet

In this photo, from top left to bottom right: backpack, hat, suitcase, wallet (resting on the top of the organizer,) hanging organizer, socks, panties and bras (I’m not counting underwear separate this year, just including them in the 7 outfits–but if you would like to count them separately–there are 7 pair of socks, 7 panties and 4 bras,) 4 exercise outfits, 4 pair of shoes, ear warmer, gloves and swim suit, 9 hangers, black dress, 6 everyday outfits (I am wearing the 7th,) 2 coats (only one in the photo–the other is at the cleaners,) and the laundry basket. Counted in the clothing total, but not in the photo are a pair of earrings, a necklace and a hair clip. This gives a total of 35 clothing items. The laundry basket, suitcase, wallet and backpack I have included in the miscellaneous total.


Miscellaneous items: framed photo, lamp, file box, towel, Christmas stocking, sewing kit, string shopping bag, glasses, sunglasses and case, lap top. Included in the count, but not photographed are my car and my cell phone.


Saucepan, cutting board, mug, bowl with lid, mixing bowl, skillet and 11 utensils for a total of 17 kitchen items.

And lastly furniture, which is a new category for this count, as previously all furniture except my bed was included in the items that I shared with the kids.


Only counting the table. The book is on loan and the plant is my daughter’s.


This cabinet houses the internet router and the lap top when it is charging. In the past, it held my work lap top also. There is plenty of room to store library books, gifts that I’m holding until Christmas or other random items.


My bed, which consist of a gel-foam mattress, a comforter/duvet and a pillow. This is where I sleep. During the day, the bed is rolled up and stored in my closet.

Other items you see in the photos belong to my kids. I am thrilled that when I move at the end of summer, I can get everything I own into the hatchback of my car.