Saturday, January 5, 2019

Organizing in 2019: Freedom Filer Review

Organizing in 2019
Use Freedom Filer for all of your home, office, and school filing needs

If you've found this blog post, it means one of two things:

1. I invited you here via some form of social media.
2. I used the right tags and Google led you here.

Either way, thank you for taking the time to click over and read what I have to say.

While I haven't let you into my life completely on this blog in the past, this year that will change. This year, I commit to being honest and unapologetic for who I am. And it's time you all knew who I am.

I am a very disorganized person. No, no. It's true. I've had make shift systems in place for years that have fallen by the way side. On occasion, a few have stuck. For example, I have a laundry schedule that is pretty solid. When I use it, that is. As I type this, I've had "fold and put away laundry" on my to do list for ... well, almost all of Christmas break.

Another system that I used was a clip system for my bills. I'd clip together all of my current bills and then once they were paid, "file" them behind the clip. What resulted was a huge mess of papers that looked dreadful to the eye. And worse, it wasn't the least bit functional.

Did I pay the electric bill? I dunno. Where is the phone bill? Beat me.

[beep, beep, beep] What's that noise? It's the garbage truck. The garbage truck is taking away our garbage can. Did you pay the bill?


(True story, by the way. Yes. My garbage can was repossessed for non-payment one year. I told you - I'm keeping things completely real this year.)

Obviously, my system for bill paying (or filing) wasn't working. I needed to do something.

Of course, like most of you - I searched YouTube. (The other lot of you probably headed to Pinterest. Amiright?)

I found tons of women (because let's face it - organization is still mostly a woman's game) who had their act together. They showed me their systems. Accordion systems. Mobile systems. Filing systems.

Once filing system kept coming up again and again. I was intrigued. Especially because every single review I found on the system was positive. Better yet, I really liked how it worked!

After I watched the videos, I searched the company's website.

Everything looked amazing! The system looked really, really easy to use. How much was it? I was ready!

What I found was a $30 price tag. There was no way I was going to spend $30 for a system. So, I clicked away and pretty much forgot about it. I continued to use my system and things were okay. (No more repossessed trash cans, so that's a win!)

But then, I was talking to my team at work about how we all organized our home files. We all had a good laugh that one time Floyd had her trash can possessed. And we all admitted that we weren't where we wanted to be in the filing game.

I started talking about the system I had spent hours researching. I explained how it worked and how really excited I was to try it out - I just couldn't swing the price tag.

That night, I went home and began looking at the same videos I looked at before. I went to the same website and read the same information.

But I looked on it with different eyes. I was ready to do something. I was going to order the system!

There were several different systems to choose from (home, business, self-employed). I opted for the home system and waited for the labels to ship. (That's right - full disclosure - the system is a set of pre-printed labels for everything you could possible label in a home filing system. But the system also teaches you how to file! Please continue reading while I explain more).

The package came and I was really overwhelmed with all of the choices I had in how I wanted to organize my files. I poured over the book that came in the reusable envelope to study the system and to determine what I would need to complete my file system.

I headed to Staples where I bought some hanging files and some inner file folders (this is important for the system).

I set aside one Saturday and I do believe I spent several hours setting up the system. The book did say it would take about an hour and half (you could certainly divide it up into several sessions). I think it took me so long because my files were a mess. (Remember, this is a woman whose trash can was repossessed for nonpayment!)

But when I was done - oh what a glorious day it was!

I will probably do a video showcasing the filing system because it might get a little confusing to explain. But I will try, briefly, here.

The system touts itself as a "maintenance free" system. And for the most part, it really is!

I actually have two filing cabinets. One filing cabinet holds my bills and my taxes. This is really the beauty of the system. I've chosen to file my bills and other expenses on a monthly basis. (If I chose, I could have filed them by category. I chose monthly because this is how I pay bills). I have one set of folders for even years (ex. 2016, 2018, 2020) and a set of folders for odd years (ex. 2017, 2019, 2021).

Every month, after I pay my bills, I file them in the corresponding month. At the end of December of every year, I switch out my even and odd year folders. For example, this past year was an even year (2018). At the end of December, I took those 12 files (and 12 mos of paid bill receipts) and put them toward the back of the filing cabinet. I then took the odd year (2019) and placed it in the front of my filing cabinet. When I placed January's bills in January's odd-year file, I took out the bill receipts from two years ago (2017) and shredded them.

Using this system, I  actually keep two year's worth of bill receipts.

Why would you want to do that when there are online statements?

Very good question. You might not want to file your bills receipts if you get the statements online or use ebilling. But I don't. So I keep paper statements.

Now, have I ever needed to pull a past month's bill?

YES. (Fooled you, didn't I?)

And how exciting for someone like me (trash can repossessed chick) to go the exact file I needed to go to in order to find the exact paper I needed to find!

This filing cabinet also has my taxes. TEN years of taxes. (Do we need ten years of taxes? I'm not sure - but I have them!) And lo and behold, I needed to pull some tax info not too long ago and I had the past two years I needed - right when I needed them! These tax files are divided up by digit years. Year O is for 2000, 2010, 2020, etc.) Year 1 is for 2001, 2011, 2021, etc.) Year 3 is for 2003, 2013, 2023). You get the idea. So when I filed tax info for 2018, I filed it in Year 8. When I start working on this year's file, I will file it Year 9. In the year 2020 (it's closer than we think!), I'll use Year 0. When I get to Year 0, I will take 2000's tax returns and shred them. I can shred them in confidence, knowing that there's a good chance, I won't need them after 10 years. (But, it is kind of fun to look back of previous years' finances and see how far we've come!)

Whew! Are you still with me?

My other filing cabinet is organized like a "standard" filing cabinet. I have auto and renter's insurance policies, medical bills, banking and other paperwork filed in this cabinet. (It's not as near as exciting).

So, would I recommend the Freedom Filer system? It depends.

If your filing organization is in such shambles that you're likely to get a trash can repossessed for non-payment, then yes. By all means. Invest the $30. (If you're short on time, buy a ready-made system - stickers, files, and folders - for $95!)

But, if you're filing system is suiting you well - well, you probably don't need such an in depth system. But you might want to do something different. In which case, yes. Sure! Go ahead and give it a try.

The Freedom Filer "philosophy" is working for me so well that I've used the idea on my files at work. I have an archived drawer and an active drawer. I might have figured out this system on my own - but it probably would have taken a long time.

Instead, I'm glad I found it.

I know this was a lot to take in. If you've made it this far, thank you for reading. If you have any questions or need to me to expand on anything I've said here, please let me know in the comments below.

You can find out more about the Freedom Filer system by clicking here.

Until next time,
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