What paperwork do you need to keep at home?

I work with many clients to sort their paperwork. I love it! I love to corral the papers from every nook and cranny of the house and then whip it into shape. How we sort it is dependant on the client (and that’s a topic for a blog another day), but the first thing I do with any client is ask, why do you need to keep it at all?

What do you need to keep?

This blog will focus practical tips to help decide what you need to keep in 3 common groups of household paperwork:
  • Tax records
  • Kids school/artwork
  • Medical paperwork

Tax records

One of the best resources I’ve found to help decide what tax paperwork you need to keep comes from the Australian Tax Office – This absolutely fabulous resource explains:

  •  why you need to keep records,
  • how long you need to keep them, and
  • the types of documents you need to keep.

Take a look here, it really is helpful!

With the information in the above link in mind you do not need keep utility bills once they have been paid, unless you work from home (and claim a portion of your bills on your tax), or the utility bills are related to an investment property. So have a good think about getting rid of the paper copy of your utility bills the next time you pay it.

If you’re in doubt, check with your accountant as to what you need to keep for your specific circumstances.

Kids school/artwork

I’ve talked a lot about processing kids school/artwork on spaceandtime.com.au. Much of what I talk about is regular processing (daily, end of term and end of year) and keeping paper copies of 2 or 3 of the VERY BEST pieces for the year.

I see that it’s important to get the kids involved and teach them how to decide what to keep and what to let go.

Set some boundaries for them (such as how much they can keep, and how long) to ensure they don’t keep everything.

Check out Archiving kids art/school work and  Managing the influx of school work for more details.

Specialist documents

You may also have specialist documents you keep at home for your work (or previous work). Teachers are very attached to the resources they’ve lovingly created over the years and find it difficult to let them go. Many of us are also very attached to personal University work too; Oh, the blood sweat and tears that went into each project!

For past work resources and University work ask yourself:

  • Can I access something similar online from someone else?
  • Can I store my copies online and let go of the paper copies?
  • Is it in date? (technology and time moves quickly, making some documentation outdated quite quickly)
  • Which small collection of notes can I take a photo of and display in your office as a memento?

I found a great quote when I was researching how to let go of University notes “ It’s good to remember that it’s not really about the notes. It’s about the work that you did and the knowledge that you gained.

 Medical paperwork

Many of my clients have lots of ongoing medical issues, so they have a stack of medical paperwork. Having worked at Melbourne Storm Rugby League Club for 10 years as paying the players medical bills, I love this stuff!

Processing medical paperwork is much the same as processing the kids school/artwork. It needs to be done regularly.

One of the most important things to consider is:

  • Has it been claimed from Medicare and/or Health insurer.
  • Do you need to keep a copy for future reference?
  • Keep the documents you need in chronological order, by patient and by specialist Doctor.
  • Personally, I do not keep copies of medical records/receipts etc once they have been claimed from Medicare as I do not need to access the information again.

How did you go?

Asking yourself why you need to keep the paperwork at all is a great starting point to taking control of your paperwork. The links to the ATO website and my previous blogs will also give you some guidelines as to how to process incoming paperwork and what you legally need to keep.

Filing systems

Need some advice on how to file what you’ve decided to keep? Check out 5 filing systems to take control of your paperwork at home

Still struggling?

If you really can’t get your head around all this, give me a call to discuss your challenges. I’d be happy to give you some guidance over the phone or email. If you’re still stuck after a chat, I can come and work in your home and sort it all out for you.
Julie Cliff, Melbourne Professional Organiser at Space and Time specialises in home management systems for professional, working Mums. Mums that are having trouble keeping up with work, the kids’ school and after school commitments, household chores and, consequently, they are feeling exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed. Sound familiar? Julie would love to hear from you – info@spaceandtime.com.au