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 Tax month – whee!  It’s not a problem, it’s an opportunity!  No, really.  Time to unload those 10 year old utility bills, receipts for stuff you no longer own, vet bills, registrations & inspections for old vehicles, etc.  I promise this will make next tax year less sucky.

Trash and donate task o’ the month:  Collect all those USB drives you have laying around.  I’m pretty sure that those 500 MB and 1 GB (or higher) drives are doing just that – laying around.  Clear off your stuff, put them in a baggie and donate them to a school (unless you have kids) – virtually all of them require students to have one now.  If you have kids, put a couple away to replace the ones they are going to lose and donate the rest. 

 Nerd purchase(s) of the month:  A shredder and a USB drive.  What, you say?  I just told you to get rid of your USBs?  Right.  Buy yourself a 16 or 32 GB drive with no tops to lose (retractable) and a decent lanyard or key chain ring.  This is a core piece of geek gear.  As for the shredder, never fear, you are getting ready to get a lot of use out of it.  You do not need a heavy duty industrial shredder, but you *do* need a shredder.

 Geeky paper reduction task of the month:  Tax month.  What the heck should you keep and for how long?  Here is a good article from Bankrate on how long to keep financial records.  Don’t worry about the ones you are keeping right now – file them for the moment (use that label maker you bought last month and be *sure* to include the year on the label).  As for the rest – shred ’em and recycle.  If you aren’t sure or it isn’t listed or you just can’t let go of it yet, s’ok – file it and forget it for now.  We’ll get another cut at these later.  At the end of this exercise, you should have a pile of file folders and other miscellaneous paper storing office supplies.  Put these in a box or a (shudder) filing cabinet drawer for the moment – I doubt you will need them again, but who knows?

The Rulez:

  • Is it a record you are required to keep?  If no, shred and recycle.
  • Replace the piles of cheap, freebie or low storage USB drives with one large enough for your needs.
  • Need to keep it?  Label the files consistently and make sure you include the year (ie. 2010 – Medical) and put it in a banker’s box or filing cabinet by year.  For multiyear items (cars, mortgages, etc.) date them by the year of purchase, keep them with the current year.  Remember, you get to shred another year every year!