File systems can seem very confusing to set up because there are several options of how you can set them up. It truly can be complicated, but the best end result is based on how you naturally refer to something when you want to go find a specific document. How to set up a file system is based on how you think.

Let me give you an example:

Let’s say you have a new car insurance policy that needs to be filed away. One person may prefer to have a vehicle(s) section in their file system – and everything related to the vehicles would be filed in that section. Vehicle loan agreements, vehicle repairs, insurance policies, insurance claims, vehicle titles. Each vehicle could have its sub-section, or not.

Now, using the same “vehicle” example, let me show you another way a person may want to set up a file system:

Let’s say a person wants to file a vehicle loan agreement, but they prefer to have their financial documents grouped together.  In this case, they wouldn’t file a vehicle loan agreement in a vehicle category, and instead they would file it into a financial section of their file system. Other items that may be filed in this financial section could be banking info, credit card info, medical bills (not medical results/records), student loan agreements, rental income (I’d separate this one out personally, as a business OR ), mortgage loan agreements, investment statements, etc. Now, some people may prefer to have utilities in this section, as well. Others would want utility info stored behind the specific property’s info.

There’s no right or wrong way to do this, as long as it makes sense to you. When I work with someone to develop their file systems, I am literally listening to them think out loud as they pick up a piece of paper and describe what it is. You have specific phrases, and terminology, and ways you think about things – talk out loud and pay attention to how you refer to items you are sorting.

Now, not to complicate matters, but I’m taking the same “vehicle” example.

What if the person setting up a file system wants their vehicle title (or loan agreement) stored in a section called “assets”?

A person who thinks in terms of assets may want to file the vehicle title in their “assets” category. Asset categories could include any type of property owned (or is in the process of being owned) with monetary value – jewelry, land, vehicles, homes, jet planes, savings accounts, etc. Basically if there’s a monetary value that could be used to meet debt, or cashed out, it’s an asset. I will tell you that “assets” is not the most common terminology for people to use, however let’s say a person who is looking ahead to the end of their life and wants all their asset info grouped together, for the purpose of having their estate in order for family members, then this may be exactly how they are thinking (assets).

Let me remove the confusion – the only difference between a “property” category and “asset” category is the word being used by the person setting up the file system. If you create one (or several) files for your vehicle info (like the first vehicle section example I described) for each individual piece of property you owned, and let’s say you placed each section in one file drawer – all you’d have to do to have an “asset” category is put an “assets” label on the front of the file drawer.

If you need help figuring out how your file system would be best set up for you, then tell me more about your situation and the types of paperwork you’re dealing with. And, if you have the flexibility to meet with me to work together privately (via Skype or FaceTime), and want to invest in help, then don’t hesitate to reach out. If we move forward together we’ll figure out the best times to meet and I’ll get you set up in my system so we can get your paperwork streamlined and organized into a file system that works for you (finally!).