April 22

Organizing and Finding Those Important Papers When You Need Them



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I used to be terrible about organizing and finding important papers when we needed them. Well, if they had been organized, I guess that would have been half the battle, but honestly, where do you put important papers?

stack of papers

When you first get married or start out on your own, the last thing you think about is storing important papers. You rent an apartment or a house, you get a copy of the lease. You get married, you have a marriage license.

Where do they go? Most young people (and lots of older ones have no idea). The marriage license probably ends up with the wedding pictures, and who knows where the lease ends up?

What if you have a house? Do you have an insurance policy? Where? 

Have you made improvements on your home? Maybe your new windows came with a warranty. Where is it? A few years ago you had a roof put on. How many years ago? I bet there's a warranty there too. If you plan on selling your home at any time, future buyers will want to know these things. Can you prove them?

Today my husband had to replace some tile around our backsplash in the kitchen. The water around the sink had eroded it because it wasn't sealed. Well then, he had to grout. What color was it? No one knew. We took a chance and found the only bag of grout in the garage. Luckily it matched.

Are You Worried Yet?

Maybe you should be. I know when we were first married, organizing and finding important papers wasn't even on my radar. One day, when I had some free time, I thought it might be a good idea to get rid of our individual checkbooks and just keep our joint one.

We didn't have a shredder, so I got out the checks and ripped them up by hand. There were a lot of checks to get rid of! In fact, it turned out that the reason there were so many to get rid of is because I had ripped ALL of them up.

woman, papers

Now we had no checkbook at all.

A few years later, we had a car to sell, and luckily my husband's brother wanted it. Everything was going well until I was asked to produce the title. I couldn't find it anywhere. I don't know where I looked, because we had no system for important papers at all. I ended up having to report it as lost and wait for the state to send a new one. Lucky for me, my brother-in-law was patient.

It's Everyday Paperwork, Too

It's not just the important papers that we need to organize and find when they're needed. Actually, some of those should probably be in a safe deposit box at the bank. Is that even a thing anymore? Our bank doesn't have them. At the very least, you should have a small fireproof box to store things like marriage licenses, death certificates, titles to cars, and other important papers.

But what about the everyday stuff?

Right now we have a two drawer filing cabinet (that I would love to get rid of, but it holds our printer, too) that holds our sort of everyday papers.

My husband's current unemployment paperwork. (Are you in that boat too? I'm almost afraid for him to go back.) Any paperwork related to our appliances, our roof, the new driveway, etc.

But you know what I also have? I have a cookbook in a binder.


I used to keep all of my recipes online, mostly on Pinterest. But after a while, even with careful organization, I had trouble finding them. Plus sometimes it's a pain to have to go online and look it up. Plus, when I print out my recipe, I can add notes to it. Whether we liked it, what we changed about it (I almost never do anything exactly the way it says), and if I have any suggestions for next time.

A Binder or Two Could be Very Handy

What if you had a couple of binders - those big 2" ones - that you could organize your important papers and any papers in? It would be easy to find them then.

You could use one for recipes, like I do. And I have files for each of my family members and the dog; I could put those in a binder with dividers.

And a household binder! Just think of the possibilities!

  • The paperwork from all of your home improvements
  • Paint colors for each room, the deck stain, and the grout color you used in the kitchen
  • Information about your home. Where we live, we have a Property Owner's Association as well as a private security force. Keeping their number and our lot number, as well as any bills we get from them would be handy.
  • Financial records and budgeting
  • Schedules of activities or important phone numbers
  • Your cleaning routine
  • The last time you did something - it could be personal, like a mammogram, or home related, like cleaning the gutters
  • I keep notebooks for vacation, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and all the big holidays. That way I'm not reinventing the wheel each time. It works especially well for vacations. 

A Special Gift

I bet your head is spinning with all of those ideas I just threw at you. And there are so many more!

Financial printable Sarah Titue

A copy of one of my printables from Sarah Titus

Well I am here to tell you about a very special gift, just for you, from a very special lady.

Sarah Titus, the absolute Queen of printables and the kindest person ever, is currently offering her Household Binder for free. That's over 100 pages of organized goodness for free, just because she is so generous. Follow this link and use the discount code HOMEBINDER20. And hurry - because I don't know how long it will last!

Sarah designs the most beautiful printables ever; I'm sure you will love her binder and have a lot of fun putting together something that will be so useful for you! She's thought of things that you don't even know you need yet!

I have mine already, and I have a couple of hints for you:

  • Choose one section at a time and just print that. That way, you won't feel overwhelmed with so much at once.
  • You can either copy the file to a thumb drive, or use a computer at the office supply store (email yourself the link and discount code) and then pull it up and have them print it for you. It's usually pretty affordable. And while you're there, you can pick up some binder and dividers.
  • If you have an HP printer, they have a program that I'm enrolled in that I like a lot. I pay $5.00 per month and they send me ink cartridges whenever I need them. They have different plans​​​ to choose from, so if you don't print as much as I do, you can get a cheaper plan. They are hooked into your printer so it sends them a notification when it's getting low on ink. Is technology cool, or is it getting creepy? I'm not sure.

One Last Tip

You know I've always got one last thing, right?

Did you ever tell yourself (or someone else) that you're going to put something "somewhere safe" so it won't get lost? How long did it take for you to find it when you needed it because you had forgotten where that "someplace safe" was?

stack of binders

I used to do that so many times. It was like the cloud of doom had settled over our house whenever my kids found out I had put something "somewhere safe". I did that once with circus tickets. And not just any tickets - special box seat ones their aunt had gotten us. 

I had to tear the house apart to find them, but I did find them. And then when we got back from our fun trip to the circus, mom had a huge mess to clean up.

If you had a Household Binder (discount code HOMEBINDER20), you could write down where that "someplace safe" was and save yourself a bunch of trouble.

Just a little tip - from me to you. 

About the author 


My name is Brenda and I was born without the "clean gene". I believe that you can keep your clean and tidy in minutes a day and still have time for yourself.

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