How to Organize Your Filing Cabinet

How to Organize Your Filing Cabinet

Paper creates so much clutter and the best way to deal with it is to ORGANIZE IT! Having an organized filing cabinet is not only important for avoiding clutter, but for knowing where everything is when you need it.

Ready to have an organized filing cabinet? Here’s what you need:
– Filing Cabinet. Duh!
– Legal Size Folders (20-50)
– Legal Size Hanging Folders (10-20)
– Marker or Label Maker

Okay, first things first: you need to organize your papers. I know. You don’t want to. I didn’t want to either. It took me like 3 hours to go through all of my paperwork but when it was finally finished I felt SO GOOD. So, it will suck, but you will be so happy when you are done.

Figure out what categories you want in your filing cabinet. These will be your hanging folders. Just for an example, here’s what we have in ours:

– Utilities
– Vehicles
– Healthcare
– Pets
– Life
– Home
– Warranties & Manuals
– Credit Cards
– Bank Accounts
– Investments
– Work
– Misc.
– Taxes

We have them in alphabetical order to make finding what we need much easier.

Decide what your sub-categories will be. These will be your regular folders. Again, just for an example, here’s what we have in ours:

– Utilities = House Gas, Water/Sewage, Hydro
– Vehicles = Van, Car
– Healthcare = Receipts
– Pets = Each pet has their own folder.
– Life = Misc., Mom (we have copies of Richard’s mom’s will, etc. in here).
– Home = Phone/Net/Cable Bills, ownership would go in here if we owned. Since we rent, this is where our rental agreement goes.
– Warranties & Manuals = One folder for each.
– Credit Cards = One folder for each.
– Bank Accounts = One folder for each.
– Investments = One folder for each.
– Work = Benefits, Receipts (for tax write-offs)
– Misc. = Receipts for Large Purchases, Temporary Receipts (ones I am holding on to for a little bit)
– RRSP = Self Explanatory.
– Taxes = One folder for each of us.

We also have our sub-categories in alphabetical order to make things easier to find.

Now, back to organizing that paperwork. Make a pile for each sub-category. Shred or throw out what does not need to be in your filing cabinet. Purge, purge, purge! Get rid of AS MUCH AS YOU CAN. You only need to hold on to specific paperwork for about 7 years. Bank account/credit card statements can be shredded after 1 year.

Once you have finished organizing your paperwork, you need to set up your filing cabinet. Use your label maker (or write with a black marker) to clearly label your hanging folders. Hang them in your filing cabinet and then label your regular folders (for your sub-categories). Put those folders into their respective hanging folder. Finally, put all of your paperwork piles into the right sub-category file and VOILA! All done! Stand back and admire your work.

Finally, treat yourself to some ice cream or something. You deserve it! 🙂


  1. Ashley

    Thank you, you have inspired me to organize our filing cabinet! We’ve had one for years, and I do keep paperwork in it, but is is a DISASTER! It is so unorganized, there is crap everywhere and I just never have the motivation to fix it. I think I might now, yours looks very organized 🙂

  2. Cassie Howard

    thats awesome, im glad you are inspired to organize your filing cabinet! paperwork builds up SO fast, i hate it! good luck! 🙂

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