Here is a sample of filing categories:
- Auto (maintenance records, insurance information, loan documentation)
- Pets (vaccination/vet records, pet insurance documentation if applicable)
- Home (home purchase documentation, repair/improvement receipts, information)
- Appliances (warranty information, service records)
- Medical (vaccination records, medical records, health insurance information)
- Manuals (or better yet, download your manuals on your computer and recycle the hard copies)
- Taxes (Tax documents, W-2s, receipts - one file folder for each year)
Note: Important documents such as birth and marriage certificates, social security cards, wills, adoption papers, vehicle titles, etc. should be kept in a fireproof box or in a safe deposit box at your bank.
Use a pencil to label your file tabs so that if you find your initial category choices need to be tweaked, you can do that easily. Additionally, line all the tabs up on the right, left or center rather than alternating them. It's counterintuitive, but they're easier to look through that way.
Now that you have your filing system, it's important to know what to keep and for how long. Here is a useful chart from USA.gov: