Over the past decades as the end of the year has come and gone, I have always tried to keep my office and records organized. That usually means unfolding a banker’s box and labeling it properly for all of the files that I need to pull out of my filing cabinet for the past year to make room for the files of the upcoming year. Before putting those files away though, I’ve always needed to create new files for the records I intend to keep organized for my personal finances and business files. This means purchasing the file folders and then creating the labels for all of the tabs, for everything I need for the upcoming year – not a quick task, especially when the label maker tape doesn’t come apart easily! My crawl space then becomes the home of the prior year file box and is stacked neatly with the years of other boxes of records that have gone through the same process. Of course, in general, there is no requirement to keep those files forever but once they have made it to the crawl space, there’s not much desire to remove them. (And they’re not exactly easy to get to if something is needed at a later date.)
This year, though, after rushing through January and all of the reconciliations and quarterly and end-of-year reporting, I realized that I had not yet packed up my 2015 files. But when I thought about starting that task, I was pleasantly surprised that this year there isn’t going to be a banker’s box of files going to the crawl space. Over the past few years, I have worked diligently to scan all of the documents that would have normally been kept in a physical file so that I can save it in an electronic format. I scan all of my bills, receipts, and statements, and sign up for any documentation that I can get paperless. In QuickBooks and Quicken, I attach documents to a transaction, or to a customer or vendor record, or simply in an attachment file. These methods create a virtual filing cabinet with information very accessible for the current year as well as for needs that may arise in the future!
With our CFO Solutions at Altruic Advisors, we use this same approach for going paperless and filing all documents electronically. We have a secure portal where documents are uploaded in an organized and easy-to-follow system. Our clients have access to any document year-round, and we all save on storage space and paper costs. There are many efficiencies in time, money and resources by working toward a paperless system. I realize that there is a change in thought and a trust issue with technology when making this sort of big adjustment, so take it slowly and I think you’ll find that you enjoy the process and the end result.