I've been assigned the task of going through our filing cabinet, and a couple of dresser drawers of stuff to be filed, to clean out the junk.
It's all junk.
I've gone through the two drawers so far, and I threw out at least 90% of the stuff we were saving. Countless receipts for stuff that has been consumed and is no longer returnable, receipts from the health insurance company for every doctor bill they paid, old 401K statements for accounts that have been rolled into my IRA, old bank statements, pay statements from dot com employers that have ceased to exist, all kinds of crap that I can't find any real use for. I know my tax advisor, (if I had one) would probably tell me to save all that stuff, but what for? I can see hanging onto bank statements for a few months, I kept six months worth, and the medical receipts until we are sure that the doctor was actually paid, but am I really risking anything by throwing out medical receipts for basic checkups from 18 months ago? I don't think so.
The problem is the filing cabinet. It is just sitting there, begging us to fill it up. I don't blame it really. After all, it has a job to do too. It's job is to fill up with stuff, thus inducing me to buy it a friend. Its siren song is hard to resist. You may need that someday, just put it in here in the file labeled 1998 bank statements. The fact that the bank has been bought out and changed names twice since then doesn't seem to matter. The paper shredder has overheated and shut down both nights I've worked on this.
Having identified the source of the problem - the filing cabinet and its siren song of liability avoidance by saving everything, I have crafted a solution that will allow me to regain the lost hours of my life filing and sorting paperwork I don't really need.
The filing cabinet is not moving to Fredericksburg VA with us. Nope, its been banished from my life, along with several beat up dressers, our kitchen table,( which actually provided yeomen service as it was an assemble it yourself special from KMart that lasted 4 years), and a whole bunch of toys that the kids have outgrown.
I'm going to get one of those pressboard accordion file thingies to keep tax records, recent bank statements, etc. I'm downsizing my life from a two drawer filing cabinet to a $7.99 accordion file from Target.
And it feels damn good.