It starts out innocently enough—an ATM receipt here, a bill there. Add in a monthly bank statement and a receipt you need for your business expenses, and before long you’ve got a paper pileup on your kitchen countertop.

Have you considered the value to yourself and your family of staying organized? Smartly stored financial documents can help you at tax time and help others if they need to find something on your behalf.

These tricks can minimize the time spent searching for important papers.

Trick No. 1: Store Papers Upright

There’s a stack of papers somewhere in your house right now, isn’t there? There are two problems with this: First, you lose track of what you’re dealing with, and second, the one on the bottom of the stack may be the one you need today.

It’s time to remove the word “stack” from your vocabulary.

Store your papers upright instead. By turning your flat paper piles into vertical rows, you can easily flip through them and find what you’re looking for. The best products for storing papers this way are hanging-file systems, standing storage containers (like magazine file holders) and pocket folders that you store upright.

Trick No. 2: Create a “Pending” Spot

Organizing is really about efficiency: finding things faster, eliminating clutter and having your hands around the volume. Organizing is also about grouping. Think about grouping similar tasks. For example, a “pending” spot allows you to come back to the pieces when you have dedicated time. You’re more likely to sort them or act on them appropriately if you have the right mindset.

Place the pending file where you open your mail and check it weekly.

Trick No. 3: Never Save a Single Sheet

If it’s just a single page to deal with, you should be able to add it to “pending” or “immediately act on” folder. Every sheet needs a buddy. A single brochure, a single financial statement…they should all have a home.

The Power of Organized Finances

There are smart ways to support organizations you care about, like Austin Community Foundation, without writing a check. As you organize your paperwork, we’d love to help you take advantage of some tax-smart charitable giving options. For example, you can name Austin Community Foundation as a beneficiary of your retirement plan account.

To see how you can make the most of your hard-earned assets, please contact Amy Allen at 512-472-4483 or aallen@austincf.org.