Hi Kathi,

I enjoyed your presentation at the Women’s SCORE breakfast at Morgan Run about two years ago. I was fascinated with your ideas and have read your book.

I like your advice to skip over the chapters that don’t apply. The clothes closet one didn’t apply to me, but I read the chapter anyway. My closet is organized by color first, and by season second. (My best organization starts upstream at the store.)

Where I struggle is with the pieces of paper. The action pile is the problem. All of the other categories are organized very well. My manuals are on the bottom left of my lateral filing cabinet. When an iron breaks and I buy a new one, I pull out the old directions and put the new directions in the file folder. All the retirement information is in one place. My file cabinets are very organized. Just like my spices turntables – all in alphabetical order.

So, I think there’s hope for me. Four of the five categories of paper are organized well. And have been for 40 years.

But the action papers. I don’t know what to keep and what to throw away. I’ve learned to throw more away sooner because, as you point out, the history is available on the Internet. I do purge my statements folders once each year. And thanks to your presentation, I toss some receipts or statements immediately.

Have you written a new chapter, or are there websites you can recommend, to help me with this final bit of mastering my muck? Here are examples: Do I need to keep paystub statements? How much medical paperwork should I keep? The dental office has my records. The medical clinic has my records. I use Quicken, so as soon as I’ve downloaded the transactions, I verify things and toss the receipt (unless it’s a big purchase and I need to keep the receipt).

I’ve told many friends and colleagues about your presentation and your book. I look forward to hearing back from you about new ways to think.


Hope Campbell
MA in Educational Technology
Instructional Designer
Technical Writer
and tired of being buried under paper

Hi Hope,

Thanks so much for reaching out with your questions. You are not alone and I commend you for the great work you have done so far. Here are a few tips for each of your specific questions:

Do I need to keep paystub statements?

You do not need to keep your pay stubs if you trust that your employer is deducting the right amount and that you will receive an accurate year end document, ie W2 or 1099. If you are on commission, you might want to save each pay stub until you have been fully compensated for your wrok. After this is verfied, you can shred them.

If you receive a regular salary from a reputable company, you can toss or shred your stubs as soon as they arrive. If your pay is automatically deposited, you can also request that you no longer receive a pay stub.

How much medical paperwork should I keep? The dental office has my records. The medical clinic has my records.

You need to keep your medical bills until they are reimbursed or paid.

If you are on an HSA plan, you can use your HSA funds for many expenses not covered by your health insurance plan. Dental and vision care expenditures are common examples. Keep these receipts for these items and then organize and total them each year and file with your tax return receipts. Keeping 2 files will serve you well and keep your expenses separated for tax time, one for odd year, another for even.

There are many points of view about which medical records you should personally keep such as test results and x-rays. Many people feel that they want to keep and track their complete medical history. If this is your case, create a permanent file folder and save only your test results etc. Do not keep bills or other papers here, only test results. If you get an x ray, ask for it to be given to you on a disc so that it will also fit within this file. I personally keep my annual wellness results and also any blood work results and let my doctor save the other documents and x rays. Do whatever falls within your comfort zone.

I use Quicken, so as soon as I’ve downloaded the transactions, I verify things and toss the receipt (unless it’s a big purchase and I need to keep the receipt). 

Keep receipts for every expenditure over $75 that appears on your tax return. If you are an employee as opposed to an home-based business. you dont need to keep many receipts as your tax return is simple: medical (as of this date, you can deduct eligible medical expenses to the extent they exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income), tax docs such as W2 and earned interest and charitable donations are typically the only items that you record to the IRS.  These will be the only receipts that you need to keep and archive with your tax return.

All other receipts can be tossed as soon as they are input into Quicken. As an aside, I keep an envelope in my purse for purchases that I might possibly need to return. I toss the grocery receipts into the grocery trashcan as I leave the store or sometimes even tell the check out person to toss them for me! Once a month or so, I go through that envelope and get rid of the receipts for the merchandise that I am satisfied with. This way, I dont bring receipts and extra papers into my house or office that are not relevant to my tax return.

You might also want to watch this quick news braodcast where I provided more tips for managing and eliminating your paperwork.

I hope that this helps you finish your organizing process. Keep up the good work and feel free to connect again if you have more questions!

PS, I love the use of turntables and organizing your spices in alphabetical order, Yay!