This seems to be the question I get asked the most by readers – “Where do you keep your paperwork, etc?” – when I show pictures of what my place looks like. In fact, just last week two readers left the following comments:
“I love the use of space and the uncluttered feel of it all. But how do you handle files? Legal docs, tax records, etc? Is everything digital or do you have it stashed behind door #2?”
“Also, your desk doesn’t have any drawers – where do you keep your bills, your checkbook, your important papers (insurance, etc)?”
While it is true that my desk doesn’t have drawers, I do in fact have a filing cabinet behind door #2. It’s a single drawer unit that I have had for years, and I keep it in my closet. Here, have a look:
That’s my hall closet, which contains the above mentioned filing cabinet, my printer, my Dyson vacuum cleaner, and my jackets. Since I rarely ever print anything anymore, I no longer keep my printer hooked up to my computer, instead choosing to keep it out of site in the closet. The filing cabinet has a drawer on the top, which holds my pens, tape, check book, etc., while the file drawer holds any important papers that I haven’t converted to digital format yet. (Or that I can’t, like the last few years tax returns) But if that filing cabinet gets too full and nothing new will fit, then I know it is time to start scanning into the computer again to make room for newer items. I wrote an article last year outlining the documents you need to keep and how long you need to keep them for, if that is useful for you guys.
Since my space is so small, I just don’t see the point in keeping a printer (along with all it’s cables) and a filing cabinet in my living room. If there is plenty of space in the closet, it’s a much better place to keep those type of things that you rarely even need to use and/or access, especially when they will take up valuable space in a living room office like mine!
As for how I limit the amount of paper I have in my home that enables me to have such a small file drawer, I will tackle that in my next post. Stay tuned!
I wanted to print less paper and go digital with more of my paperwork so I got rid of my printer totally. If I want to print something, which is rarely, I go to the library. It only costs about 10 cents a sheet. I felt like I was buying ink cartridges all the time anyway. I think the library is much cheaper for me in the long run!
I haven’t had a printer in years. Not because I was trying to, I just didn’t have the $, or the huge need as a college student. We had two huge libraries and a bunch of places to print so all I needed was a flash drive.
I want to buy a printer because some forms I come across online ask to be printed. But I already am sick and tired of paper mail being sent to my house, so I don’t want to contribute to the problem as well. I think for now I am going to stick with the flash drive method for now even though I’m not close to any access to printers anymore.
I’m looking forward to the paperless post next.
Dave – great post and thanks for bringing that little secret out of the closet!
Reggie – All you need to do is print to PDF and save those applications etc on your computer. If you have a Mac, it’s built in in the print dialog box. If you’re on PC, download the app PDFill. It’ll add itself to your list of available printers.
Why a file cabinet at all? ALL my files are in PDF format on either Apple MobileMe (non-sensitive stuff since Apple doesn’t encrypte) or SugarSync for sensitive docs (financial, AES 128 encrypted). They’re accessible from my computer, my iPhone, and my wife’s iPad. Even user manuals for tools/electronics. There’s just no need to keep paper, even the courts must accept digital docs now.
Simple and small- very nice! I also like that you have the file cabinet and the printer behind a closed door. It could just as easily be out in the open, but now you have less to clutter your vision.
The IRS doesn’t have to. 🙂