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Welcome to FreedomFiler

Quick Start Guide

Label Guide

Questions & Answers

Quick Start Guide
Congratulations on your new FreedomFiler home ling system! Once you begin
using your FreedomFiler, you will be forever free from the burden of cleaning out
and reorganizing les!* To achieve a truly maintenance-free system, FreedomFiler
organizes all papers that do not require immediate action into permanent, replaceable,
and rotating les as shown below. You may adapt the example system in this Quick Start
Guide to keep papers as long as you need.

Overview of FreedomFiler colors

Category What To File How Long Papers Are Kept

Active papers requiring action, such as until acted upon (afterwards papers may be led
bills to pay into a category below)

Monthly paid bills, account statements, 24 month rotating cycle (documents are
petty receipts automatically discarded as folders are reused**)

Tax any documents you expect to use after taxes, all documents are placed into the
for taxes Archive

Permanent vital historical records for family kept for a lifetime or forever (or until property is
and property sold)

Remove/Replace policies, legal and up-to-date kept until replaced by a newer version (papers
personal les may be re-led to keep for additional time**)

Archive completed tax returns and all 10 year rotating cycle (actual tax forms may be
supporting documents kept indenitely**)

Resource literature including articles, notes, partition and rotate les as needed
brochures etc.
**For document retention guidelines and further options,
see Questions & Answers section on page 12

Step 1 Review the contents of your kit

Five picture reference

cards with pop-up tabs
show you how to use your
FreedomFiler at a glance.

The Premium Set, shown

above, includes twenty-one
label sheets for use with 1/5
cut hanging le tabs, plus
Quick Start Guide eight label sheets for use
Label Guide with 1/3 cut interior folders.
Questions & Answers The Deluxe Edition includes
fourteen 1/5 cut label sheets
(does not include optional
1/3 cut sheets shown top).
*See p.15 for disclaimers and limitations.

Step 2 Gather all the supplies
you will need

binder clips (optional)

hanging folders (any size)

paper inserts (optional)

plastic le tabs (1/5 cut)

Note: A minimum of 58 folders and tabs are required

to build the complete household system shown in
this Quick Start Guide.

Step 3 Choose a method for applying folder labels

that works best for you
A. Inside Use the test labels
Holding open a le tab provided on label
with your thumb, slide the sheet 3 to practice getting
label up along the inside- labels on quickly and
front with your other hand. neatly.
Pinch the tab with both
thumbs and then pull away Find out which labeling
your hand from inside. method suits you the best,
and youre ready to build
your FreedomFiler.


B. Paper Inserts
Apply the label onto the
top of a paper insert
and then place it inside
the plastic tab.


C. Outside Color-coded plastic tabs may

Apply the labels directly interfere with label colors. Apply
to the outside of a tab FreedomFiler labels to the
to reduce glare. outside of these tabs.

Step 4 Set up Monthly Folders

EVEN YEAR/ODD YEAR Set up two Tip: Place a binder Petty receipts, paid bills, and Rows of 4 tabs You may place Section
full years of Monthly les. One is for clip onto the current personal account statements recommended Header labels at the right
years ending in even numbers (black month folder (or bring that are not used for taxes (led of the rst folder in each
top), and the other is for years ending in to front) by monthexample November section to remind you or
odd numbers (white top). EVEN YEAR) someone else what to le.



Step 5 Set up Tax Folders General Note: Choose labels according to your own
personal needs. For help selecting labels, follow the guides
Duplicate Tax Tabs Always set up two provided directly on your label sheets. For further questions
identical tabs for each Tax category (One EVEN
YEAR and one ODD YEAR) This will prevent refer to your Label Guide or Questions & Answers on the
tax documents for two different years from
getting mixed up after the New Year!
following pages. You may handwrite onto labels or print
using any word processor. Visit for
printing templates.
Income records, W2, Receipts for Medical bills Other tax deductions (see
1099, other misc. tax charitable donations (payment receipts) label sheets for more
related documents examples)



Step 6 Set up Permanent Folders

Documents useful Savings bonds, Copies of family Important product warranties Create a separate le folder for
for the resale of legacy stock certicates & and manuals along with each individual family members
your homedeed, receipts not on useful items in an receipts (oversized manuals health and education records.
closing documents, record with your evacuation (originals belong on a shelf or nearby You may set up more than one
improvement broker. (See Label may be kept in a safe the product) folder to hold auto, home, and
records Guide p.9) deposit box) warranty records simply divide
each le into subcategories using
examples provided on label sheet
4-1H and 4-2H.


Documents useful Grade reports, Family trees, Lab results, medical

for the resale of your credentials, biographies, and conditions, prescriptions
car or truck such as evaluations, ancestor history taken, and treatments
the title and service and academic received
records. achievement

Step 7 Set up Remove/Replace Folders

Employment Mortgage or Service provider Wills, trusts, power of attorney, Some replaceable items
contract and Rental agreement. contracts, benets, and legal declarations* mortgage agreements and
benets package* The blue sticker rates and support insurance policiesshould not
reminds you (utilities, telephone, be discarded, but kept in the Tax
to re-le any TV, internet etc.)* section when they expire. Apply
prior mortgage the blue stickers from label sheet
agreement in the 2-3H to the Mortgage/Rental and
tax section if you Insurance, Home labels to remind
renance.* you to re-le the documents in
the Tax section when they are


Association and club Auto insurance Health insurance Homeowners or

policies, rosters, policy, addenda, policy, addenda, renters insurance
schedules, and declarations, declarations, policy. The blue sticker
newsletters* application application form* reminds you to re-le
form* expired homeowners
policies in the Tax
section to keep for ten

*For document retention guidelines, refer to Questions & Answers

on page 12 or consult a professional advisor.

Step 8 Set up Archive Folders
Completed tax Tip: Use a binder clip The Archive for taxes is a revolving system so you always
returns and to mark the last tax have a folder waiting for the ling of next years tax return.
supporting year led. Advance The ten folders are numbered according to the last digit of
documents led by the clip to the next the tax year. This provides a cycle that lasts a full decade.
year. Ex: tax year year when youre For example, the folder labeled Tax Year 0 is reused by tax
ending in 5 ready to le your returns for years 2000, 2010, 2020, 2030, and so on.


Step 9 Set up Resource Folders (optional)

Instead of creating Resource les, You may use Resource les for saving
you may keep literature that you plan literature such as magazine clippings,
to read with your Active les. After notes, brochures, saved projects etc.
you have nished reading an article, Choose subject names that interest you.
discard or re-le it into the Monthly Ex: Travel/Vacation


Step 10 Set up Active Folders (optional)

Papers requiring You may le Active Tip: Use a binder clip File papers that you
action or follow-up papers according to to mark the current plan to work on next
may be stored in a the day of month you day of month (or bring month here.
desktop organizer. plan to take action. Ex: to front) OR, You may le Active
Refer to your Active/ during the rst eight papers according to the
Resource index card days of the month type of action required.
to see an example. See sheet 7-1H for


Step 11 Use Interior Folders (optional)
If you purchased the Premium Set or the 1/3 Size Expansion Kit, you may use
interior folders (or clear project les) to sub-divide hanging le folders into
specic topics. Alternatively you may use a series of hanging les instead of
interior les. See Questions & Answers on page 12 for further guidelines.

Handwrite or print
onto blank 1/3 size
labels using any ink
jet or laser printer.
For help printing
visit FreedomFiler
on the Web.

Step 12 Arrange folders using as many ling

cabinets or boxes as you need
Follow the Example picture card included with
your kit. To make ling easier, place frequently used
les toward the front of your ling system. Be sure to
insert any extra plastic tabs into unused folders. Stow
extra folders in the back of your drawer so they are
available as your system expands.

Place indexed picture cards

inside a folder at the front or back
of your ling system, according
to your preference. You may also
set up folders for storing your
instructions and blank labels (see
special labels provided at the top
of label sheet 3).

Step 13 Begin ling papers!

To begin ling, simply refer to the indexed picture cards kept inside your ling
drawer. Check these cards for helpful tips at the rst change of month, on New
Years, and at tax time. Do not wait to clean out your pre-existing les to begin using
your system. You may set aside older les and transfer papers in small batches or
as needed. Pre-existing les which are inactive may be put in storage until they are
transferred, or they can be discarded after the passing of time.

Label Guide
Monthly Labels* Use

January thru December month folders are recommended for ling items that are not tax-related which may include paid bills,
(By Month) monthly statements, petty receipts, and any other miscellaneous items that do not have a home (note: if
you prefer to keep monthly statements separated by account, you may use any of the labels listed below)

Bank Statements if not used for taxes: personal bank statements, ATM/withdrawal receipts, deposit slips, cancelled checks, notices
(or le by monthnote: le business bank statements in Business Banking)

Credit Card if not used for taxes: personal credit card statements, reconciled receipts, notices (or le by month)

Investment Account monthly statements and notices for brokerage, money market, or mutual fund accounts (or le by monthnote: le
1099 and year-end statements in Income W2/1099 Misc., and le any legacy stock purchase receipts that are
not on record with your broker in Investments Owned)

Loan/Lease Payments monthly statements for loans and leases (or le by monthnote: le 1098 in Income W2/1099 Misc.)

Mortgage Statements monthly statements for mortgage (or le by monthnote: le 1098 in Income W2/1099 Misc.)

Retirement Account monthly/quarterly statements for retirement accounts (401K, pensions), trade conrmations, notices (or le by
monthnote: le 1099 and year-end statements in Income W2/1099 Misc., and le retirement plan agreements
in Retirement Plan)

Utilities paid bills, notices (or le by monthnote: you may le contracts, rates and service information in Service
Providers or le according to the type of service using labels provided on sheet 5-1H)

Receipts (Also A-Z) a place for petty receipts if you do not use month folders (e.g. groceries, supplies etc.)

Tax Labels* Use

Tax Documents catch all for any tax-related documents (use just this folder if your tax deductions are few)

Income W2/1099 Misc. records of income, W2, 1099, 1098, K1 etc., annual gain/loss summaries, income from sale of home or property, all
year-end statements from investments or loans

Deductions if applicable, set up a folder for each category of tax deductible expenses
(By Category) (see label sheet 2-1H for categories you might use)

Bank Statements personal bank statements, deposits/withdrawals, cancelled checks, notices (use this folder only if you rely on your
bank statements or deposit slips to support your taxes, otherwise le in Monthly or Bank Statements)

Credit Card personal credit card statements, reconciled receipts, notices (use this folder if you rely on your credit card
statements to support your taxes, otherwise le in Monthly or Credit Card)

Business Bank/Income business banking statements or records of income (e.g. deposit slips, invoices)

Business Credit Card business credit card statements, reconciled receipts, notications (use this label if you rely on
your business credit card statements to determine your expenses, otherwise le in Monthly or Credit Card)

Business Expenses receipts for any business related expenses (see label sheet 2-2H for detailed categories that may be used to begin
(Also By Category) a new section)

Rent/Royalties Rcvd. records of rental or royalty income

Rent/Royalty Expens. receipts for expenses related to rental property or royalties (see label sheet 2-3H for detailed categories that may
(Also By Category) be used to begin a new section)

Unreimbursed Expen. business related expenses which your employer will not reimburse (see label sheet 2-1H for detailed categories
(Also By Category) that may be used to begin a new section)

Archive Labels* Use

Tax Year 0..9 tax returns and supporting documents for the last ten years (also any expired policies, contracts, and agreements
to be retained for ten years or more)

Tax Decades 0..99 if needed, actual tax forms such as 1040, W2, 1099 etc. to be kept beyond ten years (also any expired agreements
that must be kept for more than ten years in case of extended statutes of limitationssee Questions & Answers for
document retention guidelines)

*Label titles are shown here in the order in which they appear on the label sheets (top to bottom, left to right) and then alphabetically.

Permanent Labels Use

Auto Records documents useful for the resale of your car or truck such as the title*, original papers, smog tests, service and
improvement records (you may use separate folders for improvements, oil/lube, service/repair, and title/papers
see label sheet 4-1Hnote: le monthly auto loan payments in Monthly )

Career History** historical resumes, past job descriptions, evaluations and past recommendation letters, career achievement
awards, employment dates (note: le current resumes and most recent career proles in Career/Resume)

Collectibles** receipts, appraisals, and historical information for collectibles such as art, furniture, decorative objects, stamps,
cards etc. (if you are a frequent collector, consider keeping a dedicated box of index cards containing critical
information for each item collected such as the date of purchase, price notes, history, sellers contact information,
where the item is stored, care & maintenance instructions, and a photograph)

Dental Records** dental and orthodontic exams, actual treatments received including operations and prescriptions taken (or le in
Health Recordsnote: le dental bills and payment receipts in Health Care Expenses or Monthly)

Education Records** diplomas, grade reports, transcripts, credentials, evaluations, honorary achievement awards (set up separate
folders for each family member)

Family History** family trees (genealogical records), ancestor history, biographical records, published family news (you may set up
separate les for each parent)

Health Records** copies of immunization records*, laboratory results, charts of known conditions, actual treatments received
including operations and prescriptions taken (set up separate folders for each family membernote: le medical
bills and payment receipts in Health Care Expenses or Monthly)

Home Records documents useful for the resale of your homea copy of the deed and closing statements*, appraisals,
improvement & maintenance records, warranties & manuals for home xtures and major appliances (if you sell
your home, re-le records of improvement costs, the original purchase price, and the nal sale price in Income
W2/1099 Misc.***note: le home loan payments in Monthly and le year-end 1098 forms in Income W2...)

Investments Owned copies of stock certicates and savings bonds*, prospectuses for companies in which you own shares of stock
also legacy stock receipts (trade conrmations) if the purchase price is not on record with your broker (if you
sell an investment, re-le any records showing the original purchase price and sale price in Income W2/1099
Misc.*** note: you will not need to use this le if you can verify that your broker has the original price of all your
past stock purchases, and be sure to have all stock prices transferred if you switch to a new broker for further
information about ling investment papers see How do I le Investment Papers? p.12)

Loan Payment History Optional: for keeping a record of all payments toward a loan or to a creditoryou may use this tab to document
your payment history for purposes of applying for future loans (otherwise you may rely on bank statements, ten
years of tax records including yearly loan payment summaries, and letters of credit which are commonly available)

Memories** personal memorabilia and keepsakes such as saved letters, tokens or photographs etc. (these items are best kept
in a photo album or memorabilia box)

Military Service** military service records including a copy of discharge* (form DD 214), evaluations, tness reports, deployments/
assignments, certications, honorary awards, badges

Pet Records your pets veterinary records including copies of immunization records*, registrations, pet show awards etc. (set up
a separate folder for each pet)

Rental Records if you own rental property, keep a copy of the deed and closing statements*, appraisals, improvement records
(if you sell your rental property, re-le records of improvement costs, the original purchase price, and the nal
sale price in Income W2/1099 Misc.***note: le loan payments in Monthly and le year-end 1098 forms in
Income W2/1099 Misc.)

Vital Records** certicates (birth, marriage, adoption, baptismal, immigration & naturalization etc.), passports & ID, social security
cards, emergency contacts, family evacuation & communications plan, vital medical prescriptions, home inventory
list (or photos or video of home inventory) for insurance purposes, list of insurance policy numbers and a chart of
nancial accounts and service providers, important password and code hints (alarms, locks, account access etc.),
list of wallet contents (photocopies), list of safe deposit box contentsalso for convenience you may keep copies
here of other documents which may be helpful in the event of an evacuation* (originals may be kept in a disaster-
proof safe or bank safe deposit boxnote: see Questions & Answers p.12 for disaster readiness guidelines)

Warranties & Manuals important product warranties and manuals along with receipts (you may use separate folders for various product
categoriessee label sheet 4-1Hnote: oversize manuals belong on a shelf or can be stowed nearby the
productle trivial warranties and manuals in Monthly)

*Consider placing a copy of the following in Vital Records: automobile titles, immunization records, property deeds & closing statements,
stock certicates, savings bonds, military discharge records (note: store original copies in a secure le box or safe deposit vault).

**Consider storing in a disaster-resistant le box any Permanent les containing irreplaceable personal history or vital property records.

***Optional: Place a light-blue dot called a Send To on top of Permanent labels to remind you to re-le property or investment records
into a Tax folder when sold. See dots on label sheets 2-3H. Also see Questions & Answers for document retention guidelines.

Remove/Replace Use

Address/Phone List* list of phone numbers etc. (consider keeping a dedicated address book or contact le)

Associations/Clubs recent association newsletter, meeting times (current schedules), policies, membership info.
(Also By Category) (note: le trivial memos and correspondence in Monthly***)

Business Licenses business licenses, ctitious name registration, re-seller permit, etc.

Career/Resume current draft of resume, career counsellor proles, letters of recommendation (or le in Employment
Packageyou may re-le historical resumes in Education Records***)

Childs Files childrens school & club schedules, newsletters, rosters, & policies (or le in Associations/Clubs)

Credit History Report recent credit reports (or le in Service Providers when using Quick Start system)

Dining/Take Out take out menus, regular coupons from restaurants (or le in Service Providers)

Elder Care Admin residential/day care info. for elderly, medication schedule, related contacts & support services

Employment Package employment contract & benets package, employee stock options (you may re-le previous employment
packages in Monthly or Tax Documents to keep for additional time***)

Events/Birthdays List* list of birthdays, anniversaries and special dates (consider using a paper or electronic calendar)

Financial Plan/Budget* budget chart, statement of nancial goals and written plan (or keep with Monthly in current month)

Household Chores chores list/routine, family cleaning schedule, cleaning tips, cleaning supplies info.

Ideas/Goals List* lists of goals and ideas (consider using a daily planner or keep with Monthly in current month)

Insurance, current policy with all related addenda, most recent declarations (you may re-le previous insurance policies in
Auto/Home...** Monthly or Tax Documents to keep for additional time***)

Legal, Family** powers of attorney (granted to you by others), court orders and ongoing legal agreements: e.g. custody, alimony
(or le in Will/Trust (Legal))

Loans/Leases** loan or lease agreements (e.g. auto loan/lease, educational loansor le in Mortgage/Rental)

Mortgage/Rental mortgage/rental agreement (re-le previous mortgage agreements in Tax Documents***)

Rental Management property management agreements and landlord administrative les (if you own rental property)

Retirement Plan/Annuity retirement and pension plan contracts, 401K plans, annuity policies

Service Providers contracts, benets, rates & customer service info. (you may re-le previous service provider agreements in
(Also By Category) Monthly or Tax Documents to keep for additional time***)

Shopping/Supply List* shopping lists, regular supplies list, store information, supplies reorder catalogs (or keep list in kitchen/on fridge)

Social Security recent social security summary statement (or le in Income W2/1099 Misc.note: le actual social security
cards in Vital Records)

Transit/Maps bus, train, trolley, shuttles etc. timetables, map of routes & parking information (or le in Service Providers)

Travel/Miles Programs frequent yer miles program policies, current accumulated credits (or le in Service Providers)

Travel-Packing List* packing checklists for travel

Will/Trust (Legal)** active wills, trust agreements, advance directives, powers of attorney (granted to others) LLCs etc. (if your will has
been compiled into a binder by your estate planner, you may place a note in this le indicating where the binder is
located and how to obtain the original copy)

*Visit to print free blank forms and lists.

**Consider placing important Remove/Replace les in a disaster-resistant le box in your home or bank safe deposit vault. Custody rights
and powers of attorney granted to you may also be placed in Vital Records. See Questions & Answers p.12 for disaster readiness guidelines.

***Optional: Place a color-coded dot called a Send To on top of Remove/Replace labels to remind you in which color-coded section you
need to re-le outdated papers at the time they are replaced. See dots on label sheets 1-2H, 2-3H, and 4-2H. You may use different Tax
folder names to suit your needs. Also see Questions & Answers for document retention guidelines.

Resource Labels Active and Supplies Labels

articles, clippings, yers, brochures, notes etc* papers requiring action or immediate follow-up**

Business Resources ASAP

Career Ideas Bills Paid (Last Month)

Child-Future Activities Bills To Pay

Child Rearing Calls/Letters Etc.

Clothing/Fashion Child Follow Up

Collecting Coupons/Gift Voucher

Computer Notes Entry/Scan/Copy

Educational Programs Estimates

Entertainment & Arts Events/Calendar

Event Planning File Away/Offsite

Financial/Investing Health Bills/Benets

Gardening Legal, Unresolved

Gift Ideas Meetings (To Discuss)

Health & Fitness Pending

Hobbies & Crafts Projects

Home Decorating Reading

Home Improvement Reconcile (Receipts)

Humor/Inspiration Reimbursements

Organizing To-Do

Recipes, Cooking In Box (To Sort)

Recreation/Parks Out Box/Errands

Relationships & Love Days 1-31 of Month

Rental Resources January thru December (By Month)

Sciences/Technical 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th Quarter

Self Improvement Future

Shopping I Wish forms, mailing stationery etc.

Social Issues Bank Deposit Slips

Travel/Vacation Business Forms (Various)

Will & Estate Planning Fax Covers

Financial Worksheets
*Use Remove/Replace les instead of Resource les to hold any current policies,
contracts, and up-to-date administrative documents. See label sheet 5-1H for Greeting Cards

**You may use labels for individual days of the month (1-31) to create a tickler le. Mailing Supplies (Various)
A tickler le allows you to le any paper requiring action into a folder according
to the day of month you plan to act. Set up a separate folder for each day of the
month or group days together (e.g. Days 1-8, Days 9-15, Days 16-23, Days 24-31). Planners/To-Do Lists
Optional: Place a color-coded dot called a Send To on top of Active labels (e.g. Rental Applications
Bills To Pay) to remind you in which color-coded section you need to re-le papers
after they have been acted upon. See dots on sheets 1-2H, 2-3H, 3, 4-2H, 5-2H,
6-2H. Stationery/Letterhead

Questions & Answers
How do I organize health care bills and Explanation of
Benets from my insurance provider?
Health care bills and explanation of benets receipts may be led into
an Active folder until the nal bill is received (e.g. Health Bills/Benets).
Your insurance provider may pay only part of the bill, and then you will
For up-to-date answers please browse FreedomFilers online Q&A Forum! receive a nal bill for the remaining amount. After paying the nal bill,
le all related paperwork into the Tax section (e.g. Health Care Expenses).
Where can I get more blank labels? How do I le investment papers?
Visit for more blank labels or ask your re-seller. File all contracts, benets, rates, and account access information
from your investment service providers in a Remove/Replace le (e.g.
Should I use manila or color-coded interior folders? Investment Services). If you are holding an actual paper stock certicate
or savings bond, keep it in Vital Records (or store it in a safe deposit box
Interior folders are not necessary but may be preferable for subdividing
with a copy in your ling system). For tax purposes, your investment
les or improving handling convenience. Papers can often be led and
broker is required to keep a record of the purchase price of all your
retrieved faster by using a series of hanging folders instead of interior
new investments.** Keep all year-end statements such as forms 1099,
folders. For example, to organize car records, you may label folders as
or gain/loss reports with your tax les (e.g. Income W2/1099 Misc.).
follows: Auto Improvements, Auto Oil/Lube, Auto Service & Repair, and
New monthly statements and trade conrmations can be led by
Auto Title/Papers. See examples on label sheets 4-1H and 5-1H.
month. NOTE: for legacy stocks and funds you have purchased in the
Can I get larger, 1/3 cut labels to t interior folders? past (or from non-compliant brokers**), verify that your broker has
the purchase price on le, otherwise keep individual stock purchase
Yes. The FreedomFiler 1/3 Size Expansion Kit has plenty of 1/3 cut receipts in a permanent le until sold (e.g. Investments Owned). If you
labels in every color. (1/3 cut labels are included with the Premium Set) choose instead to rely on years of monthly statements as a back-up, use
the Archive to organize past statements by year; however, be sure to
Why use stickers instead of paper inserts? maintain purchase dates of your current investment holdings in a table,
spreadsheet, or accounting software so that you can put a destroy date
An individual sticker can be peeled from a sheet faster than tearing out (six years into the future) onto any statements older than your oldest
a paper insert. Preprinted stickers remain alphabetized on a single held asset.
8.5 X 11 sheet and do not become scattered or lost. For convenient
access, extra sheets are kept inside a folder in your ling system. Unlike How can I prepare les for a natural disaster?
paper inserts, blank sticker sheets can be fed through a printer many
times over, printing only a few labels at a time without being destroyed. Be sure to visit FreedomFiler online at
Stickers also offer the exibility of working with any tab color. for detailed disaster preparedness information and links to additional
resources. Adapt your disaster plan to meet your needs. As a general
What is the purpose of EVEN & ODD YEAR labels? guideline, store original copies of important documents in a disaster-
resistant le box in your home or bank safe deposit vault. Place signed
Having two identical sets of folders allows you to accumulate wills and powers of attorney into your personal secure le box (or with
documents for the current year while keeping a separate back-up of all your attorney) for accessibility. Keep a portable ling tote on hand to
documents from last year. Two years allows you plenty of time to pay quickly transfer and evacuate any important and frequently used les.
your taxes and place any supporting documents in the Archive before Consider having a quick reference list of all your nancial accounts and
folders are reused. Folders can be rotated each year without having to service providers at a secure place on the Web or a compact sheet in
be renamed, and there is no need to ever create new folders. your wallet (hide full account numbers and use password hints only).

Do I need a separate ling system for my home Note: if documents are destroyed in a disaster, nearly all vital records
business? can be replaced by contacting the original issuer. Visit FreedomFiler
online for instructions on replacing specic records.
If you use a dedicated accounting system or software to categorize your
business expenses throughout the year, or if you track paper records What should I do with inheritance papers?*
for multiple clients or employees, the FreedomFiler Business Kit will Until the inheritance has been resolved, keep all documents in an Active
provide materials specically designed to optimize your business les. le. After assets have been disbursed (probate has ended), le in a
Tax folder any records showing income resulting from the inheritance
How do I manage the many papers I receive from my
along with related legal correspondence, transpired agreements, and
credit card company?*
wills that have been executed. Ongoing agreements such as trusts and
File credit card statements by month (or in a Tax folder if used for tax LLCs should be led in a Remove/Replace folder. All vital documents
purposes). You may save the actual credit card agreement along with pertaining to tangible assets such as titles, deeds, stock purchase prices,
policy changes in a Remove/Replace folder (e.g. Credit Card Policy or bonds, and CDs belong in a Permanent le for resale purposes.
Service Providers). Unless a specic action is required, all other notices
*See p.15 for limitations of liability.
can be immediately discarded or led into the current month folder.
**U.S. Law passed in 2008, enforced in 2011 for stocks, 2012 for funds, 2013 securities

Where should I le the numerous papers related to a What if I receive monthly statements and bills online?
lawsuit, claim, or family legal proceeding?*
If you make payments online, you may still want to print a paper
For any outstanding legal issue, keep all related papers in an Active backup of your transactions. FreedomFilers Monthly folder labels
le until resolved. After legal proceedings conclude, le into a Tax provide a reliable, maintenance-free backup system. Paper records
folder evidence of any taxable gains or losses involved, if any, along in your FreedomFiler can often be accessed more quickly than
with related legal correspondence and transpired agreements. If there downloading les from the internet. Meanwhile your entire months
are any continuing agreements (e.g. custody or alimony), keep these activity for all accounts can be viewed in one central place (handy for
in a Remove/Replace le. Use Permanent les to store all vital records quick reference and budgeting purposes).
pertaining to tangible property you still own (e.g. titles, deeds, stock
purchase prices, bonds, CDs). For property damage claims, keep all
repair records in a Permanent le (e.g. Auto/Home/Rental). For personal
injury cases, keep medical treatments with your Health Records le.

Why are there two shades of blue Tax labels?

Folders with light blue labels are for accumulating documents before
paying taxes while folders with dark blue labels are for use after paying
Why should I le documents by month? taxes. After taxes, re-le papers from the light blue folders into a single
This will greatly reduce the amount of energy it takes to nish your folder in the dark blue Archive.
routine ling, and you will be surprised how quickly you can nd any
single document, often faster than if you had separate folders for each After taxes, how can I t all my tax documents for the
account. But remember, what matters most is how fast you can le. Over entire year into one Archive folder?
90% of what you le may never need to be looked at again.
If necessary, use a large box-bottom le for each tax year in your
What if I prefer not to le bills and statements by month? Archive. You may staple receipts by category before placing them into
the Archive. The Archive for taxes eliminates the need to set up new tax
Set up a separate folder using labels provided on label sheet 1-1H, e.g.
folders each year while providing more than adequate retrieval of past
Utility Bills or le by vendor A-Z using labels provided. Beginning every
tax records.
other year, discard the entire contents to begin anew.*
What documents should I set aside for taxes?
What if I dont have room for 24 month folders?
Choose labels for your light-blue Tax section according to your personal
If you have very few papers, you may le paid bills and monthly
tax needs. For example, you may only need one Tax folder if all you
statements into dedicated folders as described in the answer to the
rely upon for taxes each year is a W2 form. On the other hand, if you
previous question. Alternatively, if separating your les into two or
are self-employed or if you itemize deductions, you may end up using
more le drawers is not an option, consider creating a rotating cycle
several tax folders. As a general rule of thumb, whichever documents
consisting of fewer folders (label sheet 1). For example, if your tax
you use to come up with your tax declarations will be sufcient for
needs are very simple (e.g. W2 only), you may only need a 6-month or
the IRS in case of an auditnothing more is needed. If you are not
1-year cycle to keep petty transactions. Additionally, you may cluster
sure what papers to set aside for taxes, take a look at your most recent
2-3 consecutive month tabs onto a single folder. If none of the above
tax return and see what supporting les were required. Many example
solutions suit you, try using a compact expanding le with slots.
labels are provided for just about any tax category. Consult a tax advisor
Is it safe to throw away old bills and account statements to nd out which deductions are available to you.
in Monthly folders after two years?*
Should I le bank statements in the tax section or into a
Because these items were not needed for your taxes and since you will month folder?*
have already led your tax return for that year, it is generally safe to
Personal banking statements, unless required for tax purposes, may be
discard these papers automatically.* Two years allows adequate time to
led into a month folder. The light-blue Tax section is for accumulating
resolve any vendor disputes; however, if you would like to keep items
all documents that you will need to refer to when lling out your tax
longer than two years, use additional labels to create a new set of folders
return OR any documents that you need as proof to the IRS of your tax
for each added year. The legal time limit for lawsuits will vary from state
deductions and income. These may include end-of-year summaries
to state but usually ranges between 2-3 years for most claims. Keep in
showing interest income, business account statements, or any personal
mind that most banks and service providers preserve your statements
account statements necessary to justify your tax return. As an added
on le for seven years or more. If you are concerned about keeping
safeguard, you may deliberately le all bank statements with your tax
documentation beyond two years for the purpose of applying for future
documents, thus retaining them for ten years. See label sheet 2-1H for
loans, use a Permanent folder titled Loan Payment History for keeping a
necessary labels.
record of regular payments (see p.9 or label sheet 4-1H).
*See p.15 for limitations of liability.

What if I dont know in advance what documents I will Form 2119 only if you have postponed paying tax on prots from
need for taxes? the sale of a previous home or homes before May 7 of 1997

Even if you do not set up any tax folders, you will still have all of your Form 4562 for depreciation of property (the IRS recommends that
receipts, paid bills, and statements led by month. You can simply you use depreciation tables as your permanent record instead)
wait until tax time to see what documents you need, and then set up
your light-blue Tax section accordingly. This will speed up your tax Any other forms pertaining to cost-basis of an asset (i.e. purchase
preparation for the following years. price and improvement costs). The IRS may change or introduce new
Which Tax labels do I need for my home business?
Note: If you intentionally avoid ling a return or falsify records, there is
For IRS schedule C/E businesses, start by looking at the actual papers
no time limit for the government to charge you with fraud. If you have
related to your business. For example, you may deduct bills for several
any special circumstances consult a tax advisor. If you are not sure,
services such as utilities, telephone, and internet. Use separate Tax labels
keep records of your actual tax forms (1040, W2 etc.) beyond ten years
for each. For all remaining business receipts, choose labels only for
using the extra labels provided on sheet 3. After ten years have passed,
your most frequently used categories, and le all other receipts in Other
you may discard cancelled checks, receipts, statements and the like.*
Expenses. This will avoid unnecessary folders. Note: If you use software
to categorize expenses, you may save time by ling all business expenses
by month or by vendor name A-Z (use blank labels provided or obtain
the FreedomFiler Business Kit).
Where do I le a receipt for an item with a warranty
such as a copier that is also tax deductible for my home
business? Should I le it into the Permanent or Tax
section? Are Permanent records really kept forever?
1. If you rely on the papers in your Tax folders for computing your tax Not always. Permanent records are permanent only for the person or
deductions, it is best to put the receipt into a Tax folder so you will asset concerned, but may not be relevant after the person or asset has
remember to deduct the purchase. After calculating taxes, you may re- expired. In some cases, permanent records for a person may be kept
le the receipt into a Permanent folder for resale or warranty purposes. with family heirs forever. Permanent records for an asset are led with
Alternatively, at the time of purchase, you may le the receipt directly taxes when sold or passed to a new owner. When the asset eventually
into a Permanent folder while placing a duplicate of the receipt into a expires, in practice, the le should be removed to check warranty
Tax foldereven just jotting a note with the item name and sale price information, replacement costs, or to make an insurance claim in the
will be enough for computing your taxes later on. case of damage or theft. For this reason, there is no need to purge
2. If you rely on computer software or an expense book for calculating Permanent les.
your tax deductions, le the receipt with the warranty into a Permanent How do I prevent Permanent les from becoming
folder under Warranties (after entering the transaction into your software overcrowded?
program or expense book log).
Because historical family and property records may accumulate, it is
Is it safe to throw away tax documents after ten years?*
best to set up several permanent folders ahead of time. For example,
The IRS has three years to challenge your tax declarations, but it has up instead of using a single folder for warranties and manuals, set up
to six years if your income is understated by more than 25%. Therefore, several folders using specic categories such as Apparel, Computer,
it is generally considered more than adequate to keep tax records for Furniture etc. See similar examples on label sheet 4-1H for auto and
ten years.* Note: save the following forms along with receipts in a home records.
Permanent le for calculating taxable gains when you sell your house, Why are warranties led in a Permanent folder given that
investments, or any property: they may expire?
Form 8606 for nondeductible contributions made to your retirement Because warranties can affect resale value and because some warranties
fund which can be withdrawn later without paying additional tax (if you last for a lifetime, it is easiest to keep them in the Permanent section.
frequently make nondeductible contributions, keep a separate account Although many warranties do expire, they are still useful for knowing
to simplify record keeping) the expected lifetime of a product and to conrm that warranty
coverage has already ended when an item eventually breaks down. Of
Form 8839 for property improvements made in support of adopted
course, if an outdated warranty is discovered, it may be discarded at
that time.
Form 3468 for energy saving improvements, electric vehicles, and
other investment credits (continued top right)

*See p.15 for limitations of liability.


Is it safe to throw away old insurance policies?* Why are the purple Resource labels optional?

Once you receive a new insurance policy, there is often no practical Before creating Resource folders, consider that more current information
reason to keep the old one. Note the following important exceptions on most subjects can often be obtained very quickly on the internet or
and how to prepare for them: by a phone call. For example, rather than save travel brochures you can
always browse online or call a travel agent to get the most up-to-date
1. If a claim is pending, keep the insurance policy and claim with your travel information when the time comes to plan your trip. If there is an
Active les until resolved. Afterwards, keep the expired policy and article you wish to read, consider placing it into an Active le instead of
related documents in a Tax folder, to be kept for ten years (see General a Resource le. If you dont end up reading it, there will be plenty more
questions p.13 for an explanation of how to le other documents current information on the same subject available to you at a later time.
related to a claim). You may discard the unread article or simply le it into a month folder
in case you decide to read it within the next two years. Recipes may be
2. If you anticipate a possible claim based on an event that occurred
kept in a binder in the kitchen and magazines are best kept near the
during the period of an old policy, le the outdated policy into a
places where you enjoy reading.
Monthly folder to keep for two additional years, or into a Tax folder
to keep for ten years. Such claims generally do not apply to policies How do I prevent my Resource les from becoming
for health, disability, life, rentals, or automobiles having no unresolved overcrowded?
accidents. For homeowners policies, consider damage that may go
undiscovered for some time such as rainwater leaks, or lawsuits that You can save as many Resource les as you want guilt-free by simply
may be brought against you for damages occurring in the past. (The partitioning your les before they become unmanageable. Refer to the
time limit for lawsuits or claims is typically 2-3 years for most states but diagram provided on your ACTIVE/RESOURCE reference card. Resource
may be extended indenitely to allow reasonable time for discovering les can be rotated annually with your Monthly and Tax les, or wait
unnoticed damage.) until folders become completely lled. You may also rotate specic
folders as needed.
3. For business liability or malpractice insurance, consider keeping past
policies ten years or indenitely to cover occurrences throughout the
life-span of your business. Use labels provided with the FreedomFiler
Business Kit. ACTIVE

Keep in mind that your insurance provider typically keeps records of

old policies for at least ve years by state regulation, and is obligated to
provide a summary of your coverage history should you ever apply for
Should I le active papers by category or by date?
a discount on a new policy.
What should I do when I receive policy addenda or The advantage of ling active papers by date is that you can spread
updated declarations? out what you need to accomplish over a manageable time period.
Most importantly, you can readily see when a deadline needs to be met
File any addenda along with your current policy as they collectively without having to search through all your papers each day. On the other
form a complete agreement. If a new policy is nally printed, it will hand, category names are effective for ling papers that are not time-
replace the prior policy and all addenda. Another type of document sensitive, such as items to be entered into a calendar or address book, or
periodically issued is a summary of policy declarations, which is not the to reconcile. Category names also allow you to cluster related activities
actual policy but a statement of your current elected coverages. Remove and to see the specic action required such as Bills to Pay.
only the prior declarations and replace with the new. When replacing
any declarations, addenda or expired policies, you may re-le these
*NOTE: While FreedomFiler provides a method of automatic purging
documents as explained in the answer to the previous question.
which eliminates the need to review les, you must ultimately decide which
If I renance my home, can I throw away the previous documents are kept for two years, ten years, or indenitely. FreedomFiler
loan agreement?* is not liable under any circumstances for claims of loss or damage arising
from suggested document retention guidelines. Consult a professional advisor
After reconciling all balances, keep the prior loan agreement and to determine your specic document retention needs and adapt your system
closing papers with your tax records. There may be prepayment accordingly.
penalties or unrealized credits you can deduct from your taxes.