07 February 2012

Thirty by thirty update: paperwork, organized!

This past weekend, Mr. P completed our income taxes for the year. Yes, in February. Because of course I married one of those super-prepared, super-responsible guys! Opposites attract, amirite?! My contributions were mostly to give him any mail that looked vaguely tax-y (all of which I called a “W-something”) and answer his questions with things like, “Umm... I think you can get my payment history... online? Somewhere? Maybe on that one website you need to log into, the password for which I’ve forgotten?”

And I wonder why every year the IRS writes me to say “Uh, yeah, we re-calculated this and here is what you actually owe/get. Next year please don’t do your taxes all wrong.”

But to prove I’m not completely irresponsible, I have a 30 by 30 update for you all which just might improve my tax-filing responsibility in the future! Perhaps you remember that I kept all my crucial, life-defining paperwork shoved in a cubby in the office closet, like so:

I’d filed this paperwork into manila folders about six years ago in a fit of organization, but many of the folders no longer applied, let alone the contents within – like all my apartment rental info, statements from closed bank accounts, and warranties for appliances I no longer own. As a result, the relevant, important paperwork was sort of... shoved around it.

To make things worse, I wasn’t even keeping it all in there. Mr. P kept his paperwork and some of mine in a safe, like a normal person, though it was equally disorganized. And then I was keeping my (still out-dated, but I’m working on it) will in the freezer, my ridiculous version of a fire-proof safe. Because a freezer is cold and fire is hot! Genius!

Last year when I wrote my 30 by 30 list, I decided to do something about this, and a few weekends ago, it felt like the time to do that... something! I started with cleaning out all those folders and keeping anything relevant. Turns out, the only relevant things made a very small pile:

Anything that was no longer important got discarded. And because I don’t have a shredder, I spent a lot of time tearing paper into very teensy pieces while cursing the fact that GEEZ LOUISE they put your social security number on everything, don’t they?!

Because I could discard so much, almost everything that was left fit in the safe! Which means the closet cubby looks like this now:

The only thing left is the giant folder from the closing on our house, which is all legal-size paper that won’t fit in the safe. So long, mismatched and ill-used folder sorters!

In all, it only took about three hours from start to finish, most of which was spent tearing up crucial info into teensy bits of paper and sprinkling them in multiple garbage bags. That’s about a tenth of the time I mistakenly assumed it would take, considering how much I dreaded the task. And now I feel super-grownup! I’d love to show you the finished product but it seems more prudent to keep our safe’s location and contents a secret. See? Who’s got two thumbs and is finally learning how to be responsible? THIS GIRL!