Secrets to Keeping Track of Family Records

Managing a family’s affairs requires keeping track of important records and paperwork. The problem with so many papers is that households can end up struggling to find ways to organize the paperwork and find storage solutions for necessary items that are not needed at the particular time. In addition, securing these documents can be a challenge, as most people don’t realize how important it is to protect their personal information. Even the smallest ATM receipt can give identity thieves access to someone’s account, and the typical person might not realize that leaving it on the coffee table could be a big mistake. Managing paperwork takes a little work, but ultimately it is worth the effort of getting organized.

Separate Documents Into Categories

According to Carolyn McKinney from the University of Ohio, households have documents that range from financial paperwork to medical documentation. With a wide array of different papers, a household should always begin the process of organizing by placing paperwork into different categories based on the purpose of the paper. Categories a family might consider filing paperwork under include financial, medical, religious and insurance. Organizing also makes it easier to differentiate between important documents and shredder material.

Break the Categories into 3 Groups

Get a good pad lock to secure important documents in a storage unit

Each category will have certain paperwork currently in action, papers that are necessary to keep for a certain time period and documents that are permanent to the family. Cynthia Ewer on suggests breaking down the paperwork into three separate files under the ABCs of organization. Her suggestion is to divide paperwork into sub-categories for paperwork that is currently in action, basic household files that include routine expenses, and classic files that are a permanent part of family life.

Throw Out Receipts

The traditional advice to maintain receipts for a certain time period relates to checking personal records and keeping track of spending. According to Diane Harris on, families should throw away receipts after verifying the payment on a statement or online account. Diane Harris suggests that these receipts are no longer necessary in most situations because the item is accounted for financially. Be sure to shred them rather than simply throwing them in the trash, to avoid any possibility of someone getting their hands on them and having access to your account information. The only exception is for large purchases that included a warranty. Receipts with a warranty should be saved until the warranty expires, and then shredded.

Keep Documents for Proof in Storage

Records that are any type of proof require proper storage. Even documents that are not permanent, but are saved for the long-term (i.e. tax documents, tax returns, and other paperwork that have a potential statute of limitations), require some type of storage and organization. Families can place important permanent documents in a safe place such as SmartStop self storage, or whatever self-storage facility is convenient. Using a secure, self-storage unit for permanent paperwork helps to avoid losing them and prevents them from being accidentally thrown out or stolen.

Depending on the particular paperwork, it might be necessary to maintain the documents for six or seven years. That means having a system in place where the documents are easy to find, but are not adding to clutter or left unsecure. Any documentation that provides proof, such as birth records or proof of ownership of a property, must be properly maintained. In addition, it’s incredibly important to keep them secured. If you store your documents in a storage facility, it’s essential to get a high-quality lock to help secure the unit. If you decide to keep the documents at home, keep them in a location where they can’t easily be accessed, such as a safe or locked fire-proof box. Protecting your personal information and records should be a top priority, due to the high volume of identity theft cases today.


Properly organizing your important paperwork can help minimize clutter around the house while keeping your sensitive information safe and secure. Taking the time to get organized can be a pain, but it’s a necessity! Save yourself some time and hassle down the road by doing it today.