5 Steps to Organizing your Personal Documents

personal concierge York RegionHave you ever caught yourself in a situation where you needed an important document and you just couldn’t put your hands on it in a timely manner?  Getting your paperwork organized is not only essential, it’s also a stress reliever. The 5 steps in this blog post will help you tackle this task and I’ll also give you guidelines on how long you need to keep these documents. Let’s get started…

Step 1 – Find Documents

Gather all your documents through the house/living space and bring them to one central location where you will eventually sort them.

Step 2 – Make these piles (these are just a guideline) but you will get the idea

  • Family – Personal documents
  • Taxes – Previous tax return, W2, 1099s
  • Medical – Immunization, health records
  • Auto – Car Insurance, Warranty, Spare keys, license renewals
  • Legal – Mortgage, Will, Power of Attorney, Marriage License, Death Certificate, Lease
  • Home – Insurance, Warranties
  • School – transcripts, diplomas
  • Life Events – Birth announcement, graduation
  • Financial – Investments, banking, loans, Banking info, credit card

Tip:  Try not to create a “Miscellaneous” pile

Step 3 – Make Folders

Create a folder for each item in Step 2

Tip: Colour Code them for easier recognition

Step 4 – Very Important Documents

These documents need to be stored in a safe place (safety deposit box or fire-proof vault, with lock)

  1. Birth Certificate
  2. Marriage License
  3. Death Certificate (if applicable)
  4. Social Insurance Card
  5. Passport

 Step 5 – Going Forward

Use four wire baskets to do the following sort:

  • To Do Basket
  • To Pay Basket
  • To File Basket
  • To Read basket

The key in all of this is to get started! Perhaps set yourself a time limit and just tackle one folder at a time so it doesn’t get overwhelming. For each piece of paper, ask yourself, “Is this document something I need to keep? Paperwork has a tendency to pile up and sometimes that piece of paper is no longer valid, has expired or you don’t have that particular investment or credit card anymore. The ultimate goal here is to reduce clutter SO as you’re doing this, toss or shred what you can.  Here is the list of the length of time you need to keep documents.

3 Months

  • Utility Bills
  • Sales Receipts
  • ATM & Bank Deposits

1 Year

  • Checks/statements
  • Paystubs
  • Mortgage Statements
  • Expired Insurance Records

3 Years

  • Bank Statements

7 Years

  • W2 & 1099 forms
  • Receipts for tax purposes
  • Disability Records
  • Unemployment stubs/print-outs
  • Medical claims
  • Charitable Donations
  • Cancelled cheques

Keep Indefinitely

  • Deeds
  • Mortgage Documents
  • Will
  • Living Will
  • Birth Certificate
  • Marriage License
  • Divorce Papers
  • Passport
  • Power of Attorney
  • Pension Records
  • Investment Records

Tip:  Do not carry your birth certificate or social insurance card in your wallet

Once you have organized all your paperwork, you will need to stay on top of it. Put this task in your calendar once a month as a ‘To Do’. In this way, it doesn’t get overwhelming.  Already overwhelmed just thinking about it? Consider hiring a professional. I am here to help you and can relieve you of a lot of this stress. Just getting you started is a step in the right direction.

You can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment or question right here on the site, or click the Contact tab at the bottom of the page if you are reading this post on the website.

Until next time,


Tips to Setting up Your Home Office

personal concierge York RegionAre you an entrepreneur or company employee who has the option to work from home? Do you struggle with separating work hours from the rest of your life? Perhaps the issue is with your work space. Having a designated workspace, proper equipment and an un-cluttered set up directly affects the quality of your productivity as well as your frame of mind. Here are some tips to help you get your home office properly set-up. Continue reading

3 Re-Gifting Etiquette Guidelines

re-giftingHave you received a gift from someone that just isn’t your ‘cup of tea’? Are the colours all wrong, or the size isn’t right and it cannot be returned? Perhaps you already had one. So many times people hang on to gifts because they don’t know what to do with them. Perhaps you are too embarrassed to tell the giver or feel it would be wrong to throw it away. Re-gifting is perfectly acceptable and here to stay but it’s important to do it right. Here are 3 etiquette guidelines to doing it guilt-free and avoiding any repercussions. Continue reading

5 Funeral Etiquette Courtesies to Honour Bereaving Families

funeral etiquetteOver the last little while I have had some inquiries from people wanting to understand current, proper funeral etiquette. Here are 5 common courtesies that people need to consider when attending a service, wake or memorial celebration to honour a bereaving family.

1. Arrive on time

One should plan ahead and arrive at least 8-10 minutes before the service begins. Leave yourself enough time for traffic, parking etc.  I have attended a number of funeral services where people show up late. Interrupting or holding up a service is not respectful of the family.

2. What to wear to a funeral service

While wearing black is no longer required, wearing conservative (darker) clothing is still generally preferred*. Men should choose a dark suit/blazer, pressed shirt, pants and tie and a dress shoe. A dark dress or plain pant suit is appropriate for ladies. No cologne, perfume or flashy jewellery should be worn to the service. Items of clothing that are considered unacceptable are gym attire, jeans, t-shirts and flip-flops. One should be dressed in a manner that conveys respect for a grieving family.

3. What to say

Everyone deals differently with the loss of a loved one so be considerate of their feelings when you are offering sympathy. Mentioning a kind word (I’m sorry for your loss”) is appreciated and then move along. Don’t overstay unless no one else is there. Fifteen minutes is usually considered acceptable to pay your respects, sign the guest book and then you may leave quietly.

4. Cell Phone

Several times I have witnessed improper behavior regarding cell phones during a service; hearing one ringing or seeing a person checking their messages. One should check and double check that your cell phone is turned off during the service. If you are at all tempted, leave it in the car. There is nothing critical enough that you can’t do without it for 30 minutes.

5. Other Cultures & Practices

When attending a service in another culture or faith and you are not aware of their customs, it is best to ask someone (friend or relative of the family) or research what takes place. Some have very strict customs, rituals and styles, so be prepared. The last thing you would want to do is offend anyone during this difficult time.

I sincerely hope the above points will be a helpful when you need to attend a viewing, religious service or a memorial celebration. It’s all about being respectful of the bereaving family.

I have assisted a number of grieving families during this difficult time so if you have any questions, I am here to help.

As always, I welcome your feedback. You can connect with me via telephone or email, leave a comment directly on the site, or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website.

Until next time,


* If the family has specifically requested more colourful attire, one may respect the family’s wishes.

5 Strategies on Parting With “Sentimental” Clutter

declutter - personal concierge York regionAsk yourself – do I really need all these memories from my childhood to now or am I just keeping it for the sake of keeping it? Do you think, oh, I will look at it sometime? Realistically, when was the last time you looked at this stuff? Perhaps it’s time to let it go….Here are 5 strategies to help you part with that ‘sentimental’ clutter.

1. Set a Limit

  • Decide before you begin to keep between 5-10 items
  • Choose only those items from your past that really mean something special
  • Set a time limit and start small but start NOW!

Continue reading

10 New Year’s Resolutions that are Realistic and Attainable!

personal concierge York RegionPeople make New Year’s resolutions with the best of intentions. Unfortunately, many of them go by the wayside early into the year. Here are 10 New Year’s resolutions that are realistic and easy to implement throughout the whole year! The best part is that you will feel good knowing you are successful in making these simple but positive changes in your life!

1. Clear the Clutter Continue reading

3 Tips on Organizing your Living-room for the Holidays

personal concierge York RegionThe festive season is soon upon us; which for most of us, means entertaining family and friends. So let’s make your space welcoming and festive! Here are 3 essential tips to organizing your living room ahead of time, so you will be able to relax and enjoy your friends and family when they arrive. You will want to start with a clean room. This way, each week leading up visitors, you only have to do a light dusting and quick vacuum. The simpler you keep it, the easier it is to manage and makes your life a whole lot easier too! Continue reading

Tips on Tipping in the Service Industry

how much to tipWe are often faced with the dilemma about tipping. What should I tip for and what shouldn’t I tip for? For most people, the few obvious ones are waiters, waitresses, taxis and hairstylists. However, listed below are some recommendations for people in the service industry, where tipping should be considered……

Home Related

  • Cleaning Service 15%
  • Movers $25.00 per mover
  • Furniture/Appliance Delivery $10.00 per person
  • Flower Delivery $5.00
  • Food Delivery $5-10.00

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5 Tips to Protect your Home from Burglars

how to safeproof a houseDid you know that every three minutes a house in Canada gets robbed?! Although, Canada is a relatively safe county, let’s decrease your chance of a break-in. Below are 5 tips to help you protect your home from burglars.

1. Doors/Windows

  • You can never have enough locks
  • Deadbolts on every exterior door
  • Patio doors should have a pin, key lock or a piece of dowel on back track
  • Garage doors should have bolt locks
  • Double paned windows

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10 Easy Tips to Help you Organize your Storage Room

concierge services TorontoStorage rooms are notorious for clutter! It’s also the easiest space to ignore, until you can’t find anything. Here are 10 easy tips to help you organize and maintain your storage space and make it easier to locate items when you need them:

1. Make a time commitment

  • Mark time in your calendar
  • Do it in small manageable chunks

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