Portable Master Client Financial File in One Place

As I prepare to become truly mobile (something I’m seeking as I look for ways to save bucks), I’ve decided that I’ll keep my client records archived back on the farm, with a digital copy on my computer for reference. I’ll be using a minimum amount of paper. First because piles of paper are unseemly and they take up valuable space and second because I want to be digitally organized.

In this quest, I found a pretty interesting little piece of equipment for organizing myself. For just over $7 (after tax was added), I purchased a Pembrook Superfile. I got mine at a local discount grocery chain, Aldi Foods. (You can visit them on the web at www.Aldi.com – but you can’t purchase on the web, unfortunately.

This wonderful, portable, affordable poly expanding file can be viewed on the web under the parent company name Better Office Products. (Update 4/2011 I’m still using mine, although the elastic bands are all stretched out and sad these days, but this particular product is no longer offered anywhere I can find online, but I do have an email in to the company.) See a bigger photo of the file folder.

What makes this better and different from any run-of-the-mill filing folder? It’s large enough to hold a tab for each of my primary clients (plus one for “other clients” and those one-time projects), there are extra dividers for business bills, one for invoices still outstanding (the paid ones go into the client’s folder), one for bank statements attached to my monthly reconciliation reports, and a legal file for those business items you really need to keep in paper and closer to you than the safe or your safety deposit box.

It also has a box in the front for holding minimum desk stuff (the things you need for managing paper files). For me, this is a stapler and a staple puller, and an envelope to catch personal receipts (to keep them separate from business receipts.) And the coolest part? Below the box is a file with enough dividers for every month of the year, to hold checks, deposit slips or (the way I’m using it) for business expense receipts.

And the elastic bands that keep it all tidy, while permitting the necessary growth makes it even better. It looks trim and neat and compact when it’s folded up, and it will fit beautifully on a standard shelf. (Do note that the image above shows the product displayed upside down. Who knows why.)

So now, I have a way to keep up with my essential business financial papers for a full year — on the road or at home — with this great little folio. Throughout the year, I’ll make my digital copies for my computer archive and at the end of the year, I’ll clean the papers all out and put them (organized) into my paper archive back on the farm and start a new year.

I’ll be using a small plain file folio for our personal papers when we are on the road, since our bills will be handled through automatic pay or online payments and our receipts will be scanned in as they are received. All client project files are kept on my computer and backed up on two external drives, so these two smallish folios should handle all my paper needs while traveling.

And the paperless office is one step closer to becoming my reality.