Download bank statements, bills, credit card statements, etc. and keep them on your computer. At the end of the year (or after you finish your taxes), burn the files onto a data CD and store them with your paper files. If you are limited on digital storage space, just keep a few months at time.
Don't be too concerned if you lose something, or didn't save it locally. Most places have access to past files on their web sites. If they don't have what you need, you can always call them requesting a paper copy be sent to you (I had to do this last year for an old cell phone statement). Some places also have year-end statements that can replace all the monthly files.
(How long to keep files)
You can burn files onto different CD's based on how long they need to be kept (so eventually you can destroy the old CD's). For example, digital copies of taxes should to be kept forever (I keep these on my computer even after I burn a CD, for easy access). But most bank statements and bills only need to be kept for one to three years.
For more information about how long to keep things, check out the IRS document Record Keeping for the Individual.
~ONLINE CONFIRMATIONS ~
(Making your own digital files)
Whenever you complete financial transactions online, they often have a confirmation page they suggest you print for your records. There are two ways to do this without creating more paper.
- Copy and paste the info into an email and send it to yourself.
- Create a PDF containing the information.
MAC's create PDF's easily, but on a PC you need specific software. I use PDF995 to create all my PDF's. They have a free version that does a great job. It works like a printer -- you just select PDF995 as your printer and it will pop up a window asking where to save the file (then you have to look at their ad for 30 seconds - the price of "free").
What strategies do you use to organize your digital files? Please share your questions and ideas!