warranties, receipts & instruction manuals

minetMay 30, 2007

These have been discussed before in general, but I think they deserve their own thread.

I've been sorting these things tonight. I've had a system for many years that worked well enough for me, but my husband (who came along after my system) doesn't think the same way I do and therefore couldn't always find something.

My old system was straight alphabetical - A through Z folders, first in one of those big brown envelopes with 31 slots and an elastic cord to hold the flap in place. And then it became a plastic crate with hanging folders, still labeled A-Z.

I filed papers according to how I would look for them later - for example, answering machine under "A" but my husband might look for it with the telephone papers under "T" or even "P" for phone.

So I decided tonight to put them together in groups of common areas and see if that works out better. Here are the group files I've just labeled:

-- Audio/Video this one needs help

-- Cameras, Still & Video

-- Computer

-- Exercise & Sports (bikes, weights)

-- Furnishings (furniture, lamps, rugs, etc.)

-- Garden/Yard/Patio/BBQ

-- Health (electric toothbrush etc.)

-- HVAC (heating/ventilation/air conditioning) - this one needs help - I put in there the ceiling fan booklets but any repairs or major purchases (new furnace or AC) would go into the other HOUSE files, so this might be confusing

-- Kitchen

-- Laundry & Vacuum

-- Office Equipment (home office)

-- Small Electronics (regular phones, answering machine, etc.)

-- Television

-- Tools

Other receipts such as for cell phones I keep in the box that holds all the cell phone and PDA stuff, in the office. I wonder if I should put them in here too? I usually just keep those papers in the original boxes because it's easy to match up the cell phone picture on the box with the cell phone in my hand.

The Audio/Video hanging folder needs help. I separated out the Television papers and included things related to tv - satellite dish, VHS, DVD.

I think I need a separate Stereo folder too, for all the speakers and receivers and other stuff my DH brings home.

But what about the papers for small cassette recorders, jam (boom) boxes, headphones, etc? Maybe the folder should be labeled Audio/Video Small? or Audio Video Miscellaneous?

And the HVAC - some of these types of papers should go with the house repairs and maintenance papers, not with the general warranties/receipts.

I think the folders labeled by groups rather than A-Z will help, but only time will tell.

Have I missed any categories, do you think? How do you organize your warranties, receipts and instruction manuals?

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I can't!!! I just discovered my DH's "filing system" is genetic - little piles everywhere. and if you touch something he knows about it. cleaning out the house we just inherited from his uncles, and i'm recycling 20 year old tax records, xmas cards, everything - they never threw out a single scrap of paper. I've warned him - this will not happen when we move in. Wish me luck :)

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 10:11AM
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Lena M

A-Z never made sense to me, I think everyone categorizes things differently.

I've been using BIG three ringed binders with plastic pockets, but file folders might be better. I have the major division between installed items (would stay with the house if I sold it - Furnace, Water Heater, etc.) and portable items. Then divide the portable items into 1) power tools, 2) audio/video, and 3) misc.

For computer stuff (passwords, guides, software) I am still in the binder PLUS plastic shoebox stage.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 10:45AM
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I use a big binder with all the manuals, warranties, extended warranties, and receipts--one clear plastic sleeve per appliance. I have all the kitchen appliances in one binder--easy to do since we remodeled a couple years ago and everything was new. If I have to call for a repair I keep my notes/receipts for repair in there, too. All the other older ones are in a different binder. I would like to organize them by the room they are in, but haven't gotten that far yet. And then I wonder, does it really need any further organization? It is all in one spot and since we seldom have to access it it would probably take less time to flip through the binder than it would take to add to the system. And my DH can figure out how to use it too.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 12:41PM
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The prior owners left us a big accordian single pocket file with all the appliance info, etc. Sadly, for 8 years I just kept adding stuff to it, until it couldn't hold more. So then I just added new manuals, etc to the kitchen desk file draw it lives in. Now the drawer is full too.

My receipts *ALL* go in a shoebox. If I need one, I do a chronological dig using the date of purchase in Quicken.

No order or filing. Not even a system really. But I nearly always can find what I'm looking for. Eventually.

It is reaching critical mass though. Needs a culling, especially of appliance manuals for appliances we don't even have any more.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 1:05PM
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Get rid of the foreign language instructions. You will have a lot more room in your file. Staple the receipt to the instructions.

Here's a link to a prior discussion on the same subject, for more ideas :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: More suggestions

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 1:36PM
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I have a plastic bag under the sink that I toss everything into. I have never in my life been too busy to spend thirty seconds flipping through the pile to find the bread machine manual. When I'm done, I just toss it back in.

I think Tally Sue suggested in an earlier thread stapling receipts to manuals. I haven't gotten it together enough to do that yet, but it's a good idea.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 5:15PM
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trilobite, that kinda makes sense. I wonder if I'm overthinking this filing?

Maybe a clear plastic box in the office is all I need. Toss things in there and sort when needed. It might actually get used more regularly, rather than stacking up stuff to file later, and my husband could throw papers in too.

Something to think about.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 6:50PM
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I've got them in folders by large categories. John Deere green folder labeled GARAGE & OUTDOOR (just about anything yard or garden related stored in garage or outside plus roofing and siding ). KITCHEN (cabinets, appliances, etc. I write installed date in red on front of booklet and staple receipt inside. )BASEMENT (furnace--and all repair invoices, water heater, etc.) MISC. (cameras, tape recorders, etc.)

Anything TV related is in a large envelope in a trunk next to TV with VCR tapes, DVD's ).

Phone/answering machine manuals are kept near the corresponding phone just in case.

We've had lots of updates to windows and doors so that company has its own folder. When anything needs repair I have all the info at my fingertips.

Pretty simple system really. And I keep all the folders standing inside a cut down box from box wine. It stands neatly on the bottom shelf of DR cabinet. Sandy

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 7:01PM
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We staple the receipt to the manual at the time of purchase and then throw all in one, and only one, drawer. Nothing's in the drawer except for this stuff. All manuals are mingled together. I, too, have never spent any significant time looking for what I need.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 6:28AM
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I do pretty much what patser does: When I unpack the item, I staple the recept tot he inside of the front cover of the manual.

Then I stick is in a big plastic expanding file or something. All manuals together. One file, no divisions.

The ice-cream maker with the electric toothbrush with the answering machine.

The one exception: During the kitchen renovation, I put all the kitchen stuff in its own file, and it's still there. I like this, bcs these are the appliances/purchases that would stay w/ the apartment if we sell it, so I can just leave that whole folder for them.

I also have a folder for the Apartment where I would put stuff related to the physical infrastructure of the house--the HVAC stuff, refinishing the floor, the mortgage, tax papers, map and directions to our place. Somehow I think of those as different from a purchase, so it's an easy divide for me.

Oh, wait, there's another exception: I have two expanding files, one labeled "Kid Warranties" and the other "Adult Warranties."

Otherwise, I just did through until I find what I want. (and if I go past something I know we don't own anymore, I toss it there)

There's a maxim of organizing: "make it easy to put away, even if that means it's harder to get out."

The idea is that when people actually want something, they are usually willing to put a little more effort into looking for it (getting it out, etc.). But once they're DONE w/ something, they are ready to move on, and they don't want to have to get out the stepstool just to put it away.

I do have a folder for the car that's separate, and one for the apartment in general (stuff like refinishing the floor, or the HVAC might go there, as does stuff about the mortgage).

Oh, and--I found myself digging out the manual for my CD-player/alarm clock twice, so I stuck that in the nightstand, since it was clear I was needing it more often.

I almost never actually need the manual, so it's not like I'm wasting that much time the few times I go looking for one.

I love the idea of getting rid of the foreign language part of the manual.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 10:04AM
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Lena M

Many manuals are now online as PDFs - so in the future we can think of the web for non-specific (other than receipt, warranty) storage too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Appliance 411 manuals

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 10:20AM
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Lena M

It looks like many manufacturers (Amana, JennAir, Maytag, Whirlpool) have removed their on-line PDFs.

Download while you still can!

Pet peeve here: Charging people for information about their own doggone appliances!


    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 10:25AM
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I think we hold on to too many manuals. Seriously, once you've used your hand mixer -- do you have to keep the manual?? And if the VCR breaks, are you going to replace it?

Most warranties aren't longer than a year -- many 90 days on mfr. defects. So if that $15 hair dryer breaks -- are you going to spend $12 to ship it to the mfr and be without it for a month?

I do keep manuals for expensive appliances --- or complicated electronics. What does the flashing 04 code mean on the washer??? And how do I lengthen the incoming message on the answering machine?

But a lot of stuff isn't worth keeping past the 30 or 90 day return policy.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 12:50PM
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Honestly, we just don't have that much stuff. I keep a hanging file of booklets. DH has a separate file on all of his office equiptment. I do staple a copy of the receipt. New receipts these days fade within a year, so I just make a quick copy, since most items like a fridge are part of our home in the office deduction anyway. I never buy additional warrenties and I just call my local fix-it guy if something goes wrong anyway. On my new fridge, Whirlpool will take 2-3 weeks to get someone out to the house. I'd rather pay him $45 an hour and since I trust him, I'm more satisfied with his level of work.

Like clink, I don't keep the manuals on the small stuff. Our TV is 20 years old. My stove is 60 years old. I keep my sewing machine manuals handy in my sewing area. Once I've put together the lamp or whatever item it is and make sure it works properly, out the stuff goes. I make sure I purchase items from stores with good return policies. Many of our stores just tell you to bring the defective item back and they either give you a refund or replace it with a similar item.

I probably only get in that file every couple of years. One tip I've read here several times is to pull off the foreign language part of the booklet. I don't need French, Japanese or Spanish taking up space. I also just thumb through the file before putting it back and pitch anything not needed.

This would fall under talley's chore clutter for me.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 7:51PM
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Anoher thought: most manuals are available on the internet. Even for older things. (Though I did have to pay a couple bucks to download a manual for an older sewing machine.)

Anything you'll need is pretty much out there.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 10:25PM
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I think Cathy is right - we keep too many manuals. With the advent of the internet, I pretty much always download the manual of anything I think I'll refer to again, and save it in a specific file online. With big appliances, I also scan the receipt and save it with the corresponding Quicken entry. This is both because I prefer digital storage and because I'm terrible with paper.

I did keep the manuals for the major kitchen appliances in a file in the kitchen, the manual for the furnace with the furnace, and so on. Still, I usually refer to my saved digital version when I need to find something.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 1:16AM
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I asked DH about it last night, as I wanted to know if we still had some of the stereo equipment, and he said he would prefer to have the booklets filed in general categories rather than one big pile.

We have the room to keep them separated like that, so it's not a big deal. I'll just put them on a shelf in the office closet.

While going through the file I found some I should have left with the house we sold in November. I left a bunch there but now have 3 more. I guess I'll put them in a big envelope and mail them to "New Owner" from "Previous Owner."

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 9:23AM
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I have one half of one file drawer devoted to manuals and have found it most useful to place them in 4 broad categories. I use: kitchen, computer, TV/DVD and other. Then it just takes a short time to go through the one file to find the specific manual. We used to throw all manuals into one drawer but it took longer than I wanted to find the manual--this system is more efficient for me.

Thanks to those who suggested stapling the receipt to the manual and removing the foreign language instructions--I've implemented both--very helpful ideas!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 2:24PM
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I really don't know what DH does with any manuals or receipts on computer stuff - besides not read them but still keep them forever, that is!

Otherwise, all of our appliance info, warranties, manuals, etc. goes in one box. Every decade or so I cull it. I usually attach the receipt or at least note the date of purchase.

One time I was so upset that my nearly new handblender wasn't working. I dug out the receipt to return it, and realized the thing was 5 years old! DH got it working again for another 5 years.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 1:09AM
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The system I use takes just a little while to set up, but then it's easy to maintain. I have a binder with a pocket divider for each room in the house. The manuals for all the appliances in that room go into the divider or a page protector behind it. A copy of the receipt is stapled into the front of the manual (the originals fade pretty quickly!). I also note paint colors, etc., on the divider for a particular room.

By filing the manuals by room, it's easy to know which manual is for the TV in the kitchen, rather than the one in the den downstairs. It's also easier to throw out the old ones as appliances are replaced because there are only a few to look through.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 7:48AM
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I just have 1 file folder marked "Appliance Docs". It's in my same file drawer as my tax returns, auto insurance, investments, etc. If I made multiple files for every category or every room, I'd be overloaded with files. My file is only about an inch thick. About once a year, go through and get rid of anything you've given away or thrown away.

I do keep my computer manuals separate from everything else. computer docs are kept in a box in my computer room closet with all my stored computer equipment.

My file is only about an inch thick.

Serioulsy, I never keep manuals for the electric toothbrush, crock pot, blow dryer, etc. I don't even keep manuals if they have a bunch of recipes in them. That's what the internet is for, IMO. I know how to use these simple appliances. No need to let them clutter your files. Cathy said it best above.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 7:56AM
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