Really Cheap Ideas
One of the cheapest ways to organize paperwork in your home office is to go to your nearest copy store (such as a Kinko's or local competitor) and ask them if you can get any of their paper case boxes. These boxes are the correct size to hold 8.5" x 11" papers and they are extremely durable – having been meant to hold reams of paper. Many copy stores will gladly give you some boxes for free – and you can often put in a "standing order" where they will hold boxes for you to come pick up at a specific time.
These boxes come with punched out handles, perfect for hauling them around the office. Add a box or two of manila folders from an office supply store, and you can easily organize your papers into different categories and years. Reinforcing the seams and corners of the paper case boxes will also allow you to keep using them for years to come.
Cheap Organization Ideas
If the idea of cardboard boxes cluttering up your home office makes you shudder, never fear – there are still inexpensive ways to keep track of that paperwork without having to purchase a file cabinet. Your local mass-market, big box store (ie, Walmart) may have just what you are looking for in their container aisle. Plastic containers, such as those meant to store household items, can also be used quite easily to contain paperwork, and they look a little nicer than cardboard. Be sure to take a sample folder with you to the store so that you can make sure that your papers will fit in the plastic container that you choose, and try to think about whether you'd rather have large containers of paper to lug around or smaller containers with individual projects or years of paperwork.
As long as you can easily look through the box, it can be a good organization tool. Don't purchase something where you can't find a type or section of paperwork at a glance – for example, don't pick a box where you have to lay everything down flat.
These plastic boxes should cost just about $5 each, making them still an inexpensive way to keep your papers in order.