How to Set Up a Filing Cabinet for Home Use With Categories


Setting up a filing cabinet for your home may seem like a daunting task, but it will be well worth your effort. You'll waste much less time looking for important papers. A good filing system can also help you save money, since you won't have to order new copies of official documents. Once you have set up a filing cabinet for your home, with categories that make sense for you and your family, it will take only a few minutes a day to file new papers, maintaining your system.

Things You'll Need

  • Filing cabinet
  • File folders
  • Pencil
  • Hanging folders
  • Determine the best location in your home for your new filing cabinet. You must be able to open the drawers without the drawers bumping into anything. The filing cabinet must be in a convenient location, or you won't use it.

  • Sort your household's important papers into categories, sticking them into folders as you go. Mark the folders in pencil since your categories will change as you work. Create categories that make sense to you. Common categories include bank accounts, credit cards, instruction manuals, official documents such as birth and marriage certificates, receipts for your next income tax return, bills to be paid, health insurance, homeowner's insurance, car insurance and ownership documents, retirement accounts and vacation planning.

  • Look at the folders you have filled, noting which ones are overstuffed and which are almost empty. Divide the overflowing folders into multiple categories and consider combining the emptier folders into larger categories.

  • Sort the folders into larger categories, such as money, vital documents and insurance. Place the folders in the file cabinet, separated by these overarching categories. Place the folders within each section in order of importance, with the folders you'll need to access most frequently in the front. Or put the folders in alphabetical order if you prefer. You can place the folders in hanging folders or directly into the filing cabinet. Hanging folders let you group several folders together, but they take up space in the drawers.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use different-color folders for each main category of papers or for each person in the household.

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  • "Organizing From the Inside Out"; Julie Morgenstern; 1998
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images
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