You open the top drawer of your desk at home to grab your checkbook, and papers scatter all over the floor as they fall out. More fall out of the drawer as you frantically try to find your checks. With a sigh of relief you find your checkbook, but then you shake your head at how disorganized your desk is. Then you realize that there is a dull ache in the pit of your stomach that will not go away. For not only is your desk disorganized, but so are your finances, and that can not be good. Keeping your financial papers properly organized is very important not just because your desk will be tidier, but because it makes the rest of your life easier as well.
Wouldn’t life be simpler if you KNEW where your receipts were at all times, and not just because you are afraid of being audited? By learning a few basic skills, and by being more mindful, organizing your financial papers will give you much needed peace of mind. And a cleaner desk.
Financial records are only as useful as you allow them to be. And they are worthless if you can’t find what you are looking for. Investing in a simple filing system can take a lot of the guesswork out of the organizational process. Inexpensive file cabinets, folders, and kits are widely available for the organizationally challenged. To begin with, take your current financial information and organize them chronologically into different piles. You then want to have separate files set up for your receipts, check stubs, bank statements, retirement account information, insurance policies, investments, and loan papers. You will then place all items in the appropriate folders based on the year. This first basic step might be a little time consuming, but you will never regret the piece of mind that comes with your accomplishing it.
For extra security, a safe deposit box, or a fireproof home safe kept out of sight will go a long way towards ensuring the safety of your records. Another good thing to do is to keep tax information for the last 7 years of your financial life in order. This is key in case you ever have to face an audit. Though most of us should know this by now, there are some great financial planning software programs on line that can keep you even more organized. Always remember that it is easier to stay organized than it is to become organized. Once you have every file taken care of, keep up with it.
Your financial life can be stressful at times. There is no need to compound the situation by being an unorganized mess. Take the time to put all of your records in their proper place, and you will sleep better at night. Guaranteed.