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July 28, 2012 10:30 AM   Subscribe

I need to get rid of my filing cabinet. Help me figure out what to do with its contents.

I've kept a filing cabinet for years but now need the space. I used to keep up to three years of bills and seven years of tax returns but over the years have whittled it down to one year of bills and three years of tax returns. I also have vet records, medical records, car maintenance records, receipts and warranties for major household appliances, etc. I feel like I need to keep some of these things in a convenient place but there is just no room in our place for even a smaller cabinet. (We live in a two bedroom condo and are expecting twins in November.) My husband has suggested I scan everything and dump it all, which is a possibility but I'd love to hear other options.
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I recently got rid of my file cabinet and am using a storage ottoman (like this) with a hanging file frame insert (like these) -- works really great at the foot of the bed. (Sorry for the mobile links.)
posted by kittydelsol at 10:40 AM on July 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Scanning and dumping is one option (if you do this, shred, shred, SHRED everything!), but I like kittydelsol's idea as well. There are all kinds of space-saving furniture with storage, like the ottoman that will keep your files out of the way and serve as furniture too.

Or you can do my favorite thing and build up, like in this picture. Cubbies aren't that expensive, and most of them are stackable. You can use baskets or boxes to store your files. There's usually tons of unused space in almost any living area: under stairs, over doors, in closets, or even just over a work space. That's an the option I usually suggest if one doesn't want to add furniture to an already cramped space.
posted by patheral at 11:18 AM on July 28, 2012

Actually, I think most of this, except maybe the doc/vet stuff, falls into "just in case" territory. So two thoughts: sweater box under the bed or inside a seldom-used suitcase you have to store anyway.
posted by carmicha at 12:20 PM on July 28, 2012

I have one of these. There are certain things like house records and health records and car records that I'm more comfortable having in physical format [so I could hand it off with the item if I sold it, for example]. So it's like a file cabinet except significantly smaller and can go up on a high shelf in a closet or attic someplace and also go with you if you need to bring it someplace.
posted by jessamyn at 12:24 PM on July 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Seconding patheral, up is your friend, especially for things that you don't need to access often. If you can't spare the lower wall space for shelving, you can usually find a spot, like over a desk, to put a long shelf that's a foot or two below the ceiling. And if you have vaulted ceilings, you can go nuts on the high wall. You can go as simple or decorative as you like with the shelving and whatever containers you like. Make boxes interesting with wallpaper or scrapbooking paper.
posted by sageleaf at 12:40 PM on July 28, 2012

Having every scanned (and OCRed) in my computer (thanks ScanSnap and DevonThink Pro Office) and synced to my iPhone and iPad and instantly searchable and reproducible and locally and remotely backed up is awesome. Plus, no filing cabinet. Just one drawer of papers for which the original is necessary (e.g., passport, sales tax certificate, etc.). Please do shred as you discard.
posted by Brian Puccio at 1:28 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have some plastic envelopes like these and these. Each year of tax returns gets a separate envelope or section of the large envelope, and I have envelopes for car stuff (title), medical info, etc. I store them under the bed in a large tupperware thing like this.
posted by jabes at 7:52 AM on July 30, 2012

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