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How to keep a home archive in bureaucratic America

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America is a bureaucratic country. And one of the conditions for a quiet life here is an attentive attitude to documents. The order in the papers allows you to quickly fill out any forms and submit all documents to any authority, be it tax, immigration or social services, educational or medical institutions. Each family over time develops its own approach to maintaining a home archive. ForumDaily shares proven tips to help you get through any situation without stress, whether it's renting or buying a home, obtaining citizenship or applying for a college scholarship.

Separate memories from bureaucracy

If your electricity bills are mixed with children's drawings in the drawers of your desk, and the marriage certificate is adjacent to your wedding photos, sooner or later this will lead to problems.

Memories accumulate much faster than important documents, and the necessary papers may be buried under layers of postcards, cards, expired gift certificates and receipts to pay for renting a car you drove through Mexico in 2012.

The only solution to this problem is to make it a rule to never mix one with the other. It is best to distribute memories and deeds to different places in your house or apartment so that pleasant but useless papers do not distract you from working with documents.

Get ready to file your tax return all year.

This advice will help not only save nerves, but also save money. Instead of frantically figuring out what expenses can be written off from taxable income this year, and then in a panic to look for documentary evidence of your rights, collect tax-related papers from April 1.

Create a special folder "Taxes 2017" and put letters from the organizations to which you donated money.

Find out how much of your education, healthcare, and job search expenses you can deduct from your tax base, and record those expenses all year. It is believed that in this way it is possible to reduce taxes by 10% per year - and this is absolutely legal and fair.

By the way, all documents related to taxes already paid and returns received should be kept in clearly marked folders. There are dozens of different situations in which you may be asked to provide a Tax return for the past year.

Do not forget about the roots

Every first-generation immigrant has documents from his homeland. They are especially unpleasant to lose, because restoring them can be difficult and inconvenient. Meanwhile, they can come in handy. They must be kept together with official translations (if any) and copies of US equivalents.

For example, if you have a high school diploma obtained at home, then in the same folder with it should be a translation and certificate of evaluation of the diploma (evaluation). If this information is of interest to your employer, or you decide to continue your education, you will only need to get the right folder and send the documents where it should be.

Work with documents regularly

The average American who works for hire and does not lead complex household accounting, for keeping papers in order enough to allocate from half an hour to an hour every week and half a day once a month 3.

Once a week, fill in the required forms and put the documents appearing in 7 days into folders. Once in the 3 months, destroy papers that are no longer needed, group paid bills and update information about your financial affairs (assets, retirement account, mortgage), because you should at any time be able to quickly collect relevant information on these issues.

At first, the prospect of regularly dealing with documents will seem depressing, but after you feel the freedom and confidence this gives you, you will enjoy the maintenance of your home archive.

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Get a scanner

In the 21 century, it is a sin to not use the ability to securely store copies of all necessary documents in electronic form. Get a compact desktop scanner. They are expensive, but this is not an urgent purchase, and if you keep track of discounts and special offers for this category of goods for a while, you can buy it at a very attractive price.

Every document that goes into the home archive will be in the electronic archive in a matter of seconds - but do not forget that virtual folders and tags should also be in perfect order.

For even more reliable copying of documents, you can use cloud services (for example, Evernote or Dropbox) - then you will have copies of documents even in the event of an unpleasant unforeseen situation such as a fire or a robbery.

Sort mail

As a rule, when you take out a pack of envelopes from a box, you only have time to throw out frankly unnecessary promotional materials and read important letters that require an immediate response. For everything else, it is worthwhile to have a special basket to disassemble its contents once a week.

Some seemingly insignificant letters can be useful, for example, as proof of residence address (proof of residence); This is especially important if you do not receive invoices in the mail in your name.

If this is your case, keep a separate folder with letters that can be used as proof of address - such papers should have your name and date. Determine the period during which you keep such documents (for example, 90 days) and get rid of obsolete documents once every 3 months.

Get a contact card

Unusual for a native of the countries of the former USSR, the American practice of giving recommendations may frighten new immigrants.

Create your own contact card. Bring in there former chiefs and employees, clients, business partners, teachers, owners of rental housing, attending physicians. For each name, add a phone number, address, email, links to pages on social networks.

If you are asked to contact us for recommendations when applying for a job or renting a home, you can provide them in minutes, rather than devoting a whole evening to this.

See also:

How to make useful dating in America

Personal experience. How America changed me

The most useful apps for living in the USA

Five little things in the USA that make me happy

 

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