Cleaning & Organizing
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Filing cabinet or binder files?

Hi nesties,

 I have been happily married for almost 2 months now and I am still trying to get a handle on the home. My one main issue is all the new paperwork and documents we have accumulated as a married couple. All those booklets from new appliances and the joint bills for telephone, internet, cable etc do not have a home as yet and is making me fret that they may miraculously disappear when I most need them.  

 We have been looking for a filing cabinet but I've been reading a number of blogs about the joys of using binders. With a filing cabinet I worry about bulk, and binders, will I make the effort to open them up and keep them organized? Do any of you ladies have a method you swear by or perhaps have been through both systems and can steer me in one direction or the other? 

Re: Filing cabinet or binder files?

  • My grandmother has been using an accordion folder for many years and it really works for her. She keeps her bill history in it, but I think she keeps her important documentation in a large safe.

    My H and I have been married for half a year and have owned our home for just over a year. Here is our "system." Any important, hard-to-replace documents, like our marriage license, SS cards, birth certificates, etc. are in a small fireproof box with a key (they also have ones with code pads). I have the current year's home and car insurance information in a filing cabinet that I already had for my work documents, but I can also find it online - I have never referenced it once. We don't keep anything for bills - we pay every bill except water online, so it is always accessible through a log-in (or older bills through a request). We do have the same note on our phone and iCloud with all important logins, policy numbers, etc. You could keep this in the safe if you don't trust keeping it digitally. I don't even like having a mail holder. I am the kind of person who immediately throws away what I don't need, keeps what I do for the moment, and only if I must save it do I file it away (while usually discarding the older copies). As far as appliances, we have many small appliances from the bridal shower that we keep in a pantry, and I leave each booklet under the appliance. Once I don't feel like I need them anymore, I will get rid of each one. The major kitchen appliance booklets like for the refrigerator are just in that hard-to-reach cabinet above our over-the-range microwave. You can always find manuals online.

    As you can see, I'm pretty minimalistic, and that may not work for everyone. I do think everyone should have a fireproof, locked box for important, confidential documents, though. You might want one big enough to hold your most important keepsakes, too, like old photos (even if they have been scanned into the computer) or heirlooms. A lot of people lost their wedding photos in Hurricane Sandy, and if only they had backed them up somewhere, they'd at least have the file... How you store your manuals and other files is up to you. Hopefully you will find a system that works best for your family.

  • Our desk/shelves in our office have drawers with hanging file supports in them. We have the hanging files and then to futher divide items, we have those manilla expanding folders. We have one folder for each utility, account, and insurance company. We have one for each retirement account, 529 and other finances. There is also a folder for "Kitchen Appliance Info" and for "Electronic Info."

    For our important home documents we have a HUGE orange binder. It's full of maintenance info on the furnace, water heater, water softener, hot tub, etc. It also has the home's blue prints, and some other neighborhood/home information. We call it the Home Info Binder. It's the only binder we have for our organization. Everything else is in the hanging folders in the two desk drawers.

    Our important legal documents are in our fire proof safe.

    I love the hanging folder system. It's tucked away and not ugly. Plus, it's so easy to fing what we need.

  • I found binders more time consuming to maintain. If you don't have room for a piece of furniture for filing you can get a filing box or crate from Wal-Mart. You can always use binder for some items you need to access a lot and file others away. 

    I keep all those booklets for appliances and such in a magazine file. Easy to get to, easy to hide. 

    Bills used to be kept in a binder. Once paid I marked the date, confirmation or check number, and punch it/file it. I pull the one from the same month year prior and shred. I stopped for a while and just monitored online, but I found if I don't get them in hand I just don't look over them well. I'm back to filling them, now in a hanging file drawer of our desk. 

    Important docs (birth certs, passports, etc.) are in a fire safe. Anything tax related goes in a hanging folder until year end, then gets filed with the tax returns for that year. 

    Less critical items get filed temporarily, but I take a day every so often to scan them into a computer file. It is saved on the hard drive and emailed to myself so if something happens to the house I still have the records. This includes receipts for home purchases, photos of each room for insurance, car maintenance records, etc. 


    BFP 11.8.12 * EDD 7.17.13 * MC 12.20.12
    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over!
  • Thank you for all the wonderful ideas ladies. I also think that I might be a bit lax when it comes to binders as I've done that before getting married and didnt clear it as often as required. And that was just for clothing accounts. Before I knew it, the binder was bursting with documents.

    I'm just concerned with space when it comes to a filing cabinet as the room that is now the office is intended for the nursery in the future. The new office is yet to be built but the intended space is much smaller. Alternatively perhaps I could just get a two-drawer filing cabinet and put it under my desk. And another thing that might help-being more organized!

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