3 steps to organizing your paperwork like a pro

Every time you get a document, ask yourself whether it's something that can be automated, combined into a single place, scanned or gotten online.

Angela Iermieri | Financial Planner | Desjardins Group

It’s a task we all love to hate, but that we all need to get done: tackling our ever-growing piles of paperwork! Whether on paper or online, it’s time to get organized!

Here’s a simple 3-step plan to start getting your paperwork organized and under control.

Step 1: Sort your paperwork by theme

Wealth management

        • Personal inventory of assets
        • Power of attorney / protection mandate
        • Will
        • Insurance policies (health, life, home, car, etc.)
        • Property purchase agreements and home improvements
        • Leases
        • Property sales agreements


        • Annual investment statements
        • Transaction notices for securities and investment funds
        • Term deposit and savings bond certificates
        • Employer pension plan statements
        • Tax returns


        • Tax returns and notices of assessment for the past 7 years
        • Receipts for tax credits (like donations, medical expenses, childcare, public transit , children’s and seniors’ activities )

Consumer goods

      • Receipts for purchases with warranties
      • Account statements
      • Vehicle lease/purchase agreements and any repair invoices


      • Cohabitation agreement, marriage contract, birth certificates, passports, etc.
      • Documents for your children (like vaccination records, daycare contracts, report cards)

Step 2: Cut back on paper

Now that you’ve got your papers sorted, it’s time to see which hard copies you can toss.

Figure out what you can scan:

      • Warranties
      • Home improvement receipts
      • Personal inventory of assets
      • Tax returns

Figure out what’s already available online?

On AccèsD:

      • Statements for your accounts, credit cards, guaranteed investments, term savings, Desjardins Funds and brokerage accounts
      • Your tax slips
      • Your car and home insurance policies
      • Your bills and epost documents
      • Your budget

Step 3: Simplify for the future

Having your paperwork well organized will give you a better handle on your personal affairs. Plus, if you get sick or injured, or if you become disabled or pass away, everything will be much easier for someone else to handle. As a general rule, the fewer papers there are, the easier it is for someone to manage.

Here are a few ideas on how you can reduce the number of statements, due dates, websites and passwords you need to keep track of:

Making regular bill payments
      • Contributing to your savings and investments
      • Backing up your information on your hard drive or the “cloud”

Figure out what you can combine in one place:

  • Your accounts
  • Your investments

Some final words of advice to avoid getting buried under a landslide of paperwork

  • Every time you get a document, ask yourself whether it’s something that can be automated, combined into a single place, scanned or gotten online
  • Make sorting easier by using colour coding, sorting by year, etc.
  • Take it one step at a time.
  • Be strategic and consistent.

Once you’ve gotten through it all, you’ll enjoy a little less stress and a lot more space in your decluttered drawers and hard drive!

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