Our lives are full of financial documents. Pay stubs, tax receipts, tax returns, bank statements, retirement account statements, and so on. But what happens every time you receive a new statement or a new receipt. Do you toss it into a shoebox and figure you will deal with it later, or do you have a system in place that allows you to file and keep your financial documents organized? If you are the shoebox type of person, let’s review ways that you can quickly and easily get your financial documents organized today.
Begin by purchasing hanging folders, individual file folders, and if you do not have a filing cabinet in your home, then purchase a file box. These are available at any office supply store.
Create hanging file folders and files and label them as follows:
- Tax Returns. Label the first hanging folder with “Tax Returns”. Label individual file folders by year, one for each past return. Label an additional folder for current tax receipts so that you will have them ready for next year’s tax return.
- Investment Account statements. Organize your statements based on the financial institution and then in date order before filing them.
- Retirement Account statements. Organize these the same way you did for your investment statements.
- Insurance documents. Create a separate folder for life insurance documents, car insurance documents and health insurance.
- Household accounts. Create separate file folders for your mortgage, home insurance documents, and home equity loan statements.
- Family Will or Trust. Include all copies of your will and trust documents, even if your lawyer already has a copy. Make sure that the person that you appointed as Executor and Administrator in these documents knows exactly where to find them.
- Children’s accounts. You may have started a college fund or savings account for your children and grandchildren. You should keep those statements in this separate folder.
Now that you have all of your files labeled you need to go through your home and find all of these documents and bring them together on the kitchen table. Organize them into piles based on the categories listed above. Then organize them by date and put them into each corresponding file folder in your filing cabinet or file box.
While many people may already have a system such as this in place, others may not because chances are that looking at all of these papers feels overwhelming so they just avoid it. Don’t avoid doing this. It will really only take you a few hours to do, and once it is done, make sure any new papers are filed immediately.