File Storage Keepsake Boxes

file storage pinThis is my favorite baby gift or 1st birthday gift – a practical way for parents to save a few treasured keepsakes over the years without getting overwhelmed. The key, as with most organizing attempts, is to have a proper place for everything.

The main idea is to have a file folder ready for each stage in the child’s life and limiting the things kept to just what fits in the file, so you have one place to store important documents (like immunization records) but also fun stuff like drawing and writing samples, certificates, and annual school photos.

Here are step-by-step instructions on making a custom file storage keepsake box for your kids or as a gift.

Supplies:

Sterilite Large Nesting Showoff- Blue Eclipse

  1. Plastic File Box. I picked up a Sterilite Large Nesting Show-off at Walmart in the storage solutions section for about $6. (Much more expensive on Amazon.)  You can order at Walmart.com but only for store pickup).  I like the clamp-on lid and handle and it will work for several years. I have already replaced my 3rd grader’s with a Legal/Letter File Box, but no need to store that size until you need it.Smead Hanging File Folder, 1/5 Tab, Assorted Colors, Letter Size, 25/Box
  2. Hanging File Folders. For my project, a box of 25 is enough. You can get multi-colored file folders at Walmart or other office supply stores. I ordered the jewel-toned file folders from Amazon when I made them for my nieces.
  3. File Labels. You can certainly hand-write on the file labels that come with your folders, but I created mine on the computer, then printed them on cardstock, cut them out, and inserted them in the clear file tabs

I used a table in Microsoft Word with each row 0.6″ high and each column 2″ wide and typed in the file name. I also added a shape on the left side and put a symbol on it to correspond with each label. If you’d like to use these, just copy one of the label designs at the end of this post and paste it into a Word document, then print!

Here’s a list of the files and ideas for what to include in each one.

  • Baby Info: footprints and bassinet label from the hospital, birth announcements, etc.
  • Medical: immunization records, check-up records
  • Certificates: copies of birth certificate, awards they earn when they are older
  • Church: baptism certificate, projects they complete in church
  • Cards/Letters: a copy of our Christmas card/letter each year and any special cards/letters they receive that they want to keep
  • Pictures: professional photos/school pictures. Just a few from each year to use for graduation display, etc.
  • Sports: certificates, ribbons, articles as they get older
  • Interview: I want to do an “All About Me” interview on their birthday, so I printed 18 of this version so they are all ready to be filled out each year.
  • Age 0-3: artwork, projects from the early years, notes of funny things they said or did
  • Age 4-5: preschool report card, special art projects, CD of pictures
  • Kindergarten-Grade 12: report card, special projects or papers, etc. The goal is to limit it to only what FITS in the file.
  • Blank: I added one extra file just for anything else that might pop up as a category according to their interests, like Music, 4-H, etc.
Now, it’s just time to put all the files in the box, add all the folder labels, and fill them! I did my boxes from right to left, one space apart so I could see the symbols.
I did my niece’s left to right 2 spaces apart so you could read the whole label.

If you’re feeling really crafty, you can add a cute label to the front. I found it better to place them on the inside of the box and stick on with packing tape. Other ideas are to cut out vinyl if you have a Cricut or use paint-pen markers to just write on the front.

That’s it! For less than $20 and in just an hour or two, you can be ready to keep your kids organized for the next 18 years! This is also a much-appreciated baby gift!

It’s definitely worth putting together while your kids are young and you can modify it to fit your lifestyle. You can keep the files in a filing cabinet, add files as needed, purge things at the end of the year to keep only the most important things, etc. It’s just a system to get you started.

Be sure to PIN THIS blog post if this is something you want to come back to later!

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BONUS: Save any of these label sets as an image, insert into a Word document and print! If you need to check sizes, each cell should be 2″ wide and 0.6″ tall.

file labels jpg

File Labels-bluefile labels-grayfile labels-red

Here is another blogger’s post with cute free printables: https://howdoesshe.com/free-printable-keepsake-box-labels/

Happy Organizing!

file storage pin

Put your Money on Auto-Matic

money on automaticOne of my top money tips that involves saving time (and potentially money) is to automate your bill-pay process as much as possible.

Most credit card accounts have auto-bill pay options and even many of my bills can ACH directly out of my checking account.

Why I love these features:

  1. If you are living in 1997 and still mail or drop off your bills, this saves you both time and money in postage and gas.
  2. It eliminates late fees from bills that get forgotten, lost or confusion over who in the household was supposed to pay it.
  3. It frees up mental bandwidth that was previously spent on remembering where the bills are, what is due when, what has gotten paid or not, etc.
  4. I include some of my own savings as auto-payments each month, such as funding ROTH IRA and college investments accounts. This way they don’t get de-prioritized as other bills come in. You can also set up automatic drafts to a savings account if you’re saving money there for something special.

More tips:

  1. Make sure your bank balance has adequate funds to cover the full statement balance on the due date. I use ynab.com to budget, so all my spending comes of categories that are funded at the time I purchase and I also follow their suggestions of building up a 1-month buffer in all categories. (Use my link to get 1 month FREE!)
  2. Check your accounts for all the bills that come in during a month and then set up the auto-pay all at once, otherwise you’ll wonder which ones are on auto-pay and which ones you have to manually pay. Not all of them note on your statement whether auto-pay is on. Put your passwords somewhere safe.
  3. When you set them up, they most likely will only be automatically paid on your NEXT statement, not your current statement. So, pay in full now and then next month it will pay for you. (I got caught with this on Kohl’s–it was more of a 2 month wait.)
  4. If you have irregular bills that come up, set them up for automatic renewal if you know you want to continue use, or use your bank‘s bill-pay system to avoid using a stamp and envelope.
  5. If you’re into credit card rewards, some bills will let you charge your card instead of drafting directly from  your checking. For example, I pay my cable/internet bill on my credit card every month, then my credit card automatically pays on it’s due date. Just know that organizations are charged a fee to use credit cards, so I choose not to put my church/non-profit giving on a credit card because I don’t want them to have a to pay a transaction fee.

Ideas of Accounts to Set Up:

  1. Church Giving
  2. Other Mission support (example: We sponsor a child through Compassion International and set up automatic payment including birthday and Christmas presents to make sure we don’t miss it.)
  3. Credit Cards (choice to pay last statement balance, current balance or minimum). If you’re on credit card float/not always able to pay it off every month, at least set it up to draft the minimum automatically and then just send any extra you can. But don’t get late fees to add to the mess!)
  4. Store Credit Cards (Kohl’s, Amazon,  gas card, etc.)
  5. Mortgage (including if you want extra principle paid each month)
  6. Daycare
  7. Cable/Internet
  8. Electric/Water/Garbage
  9. Cell Phone
  10. Investment accounts (retirement, college fund)
  11. Subscriptions like Netflix, Amazon Prime, ID Theft protection, Computer virus protection, software, etc.

Beyond Auto-Pay:

If you do have any accounts that don’t allow auto-pay-in-full, at least figure out their online payment system so you can save stamps and trips. For example, if you doctor at a Sanford medical facility, use My Sanford Chart to pay your bills using your HSA debit card. Or at the very least, your bank may have an online bill-pay feature that will send a check for you to any business you set up.
I also recommend Paypal as an easy way to send money to friends or family for all those little things like splitting the cost of a gift or a restaurant ticket. Much easier than sending checks that someone has to cash! Just make sure you send it through “Friends and Family” and don’t send them a “request to pay” or a fee will be charged.
What other tips or ideas can you share on automating your bill-paying process?