It is never too late to stand up and face down your demons. Many get paralyzed by the unknown and obsessed by the fear of throwing something away in case they may need it some day. Too often, the easy answer leads to inaction.
The solution to effectively managing paperwork requires a little thought, probability and balance. With these in mind, a practical filing system can be created to maintain it all.
All paper is not created equal. Be generous with the word junk since most of it is after all. Some fall in a temporary category and should be accommodated as such. A small percentage are legitimately very important and need top priority.
However, all of it is worthless if it cannot be found when needed. Balance is crucial. The amount of paper kept should be limited to the amount that one person can reasonably handle.
When in doubt, consider the last time that you ever referred back to any particular item if at all and the odds of ever having to do so in the future. The answer may be surprising.
This can be especially true for financial issues. Separate information needed for tax purposes and at the end of the year, file it all together with the tax return. The rest can most likely be considered discretionary. For example, discard interim investments statement and keep the year end only if so inclined. This alone would cut down on at least 75% of that paperwork.
Invest the time, use some common sense and think it through logically in order to define a simple method to deal with paper. While there will always be shades of gray, the fear will lessen with a definitive game plan. In fact, fear should not lie in tossing but in not finding. The future never comes in the size and shape that we expect, so better to try and beat the odds rather than drown in a sea of paper. It will all balance out in the end.
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