Keeping Good Financial Records

  • By Jillian Taylor-Mancusi

Keeping good financial records is not always easy. Paper bills and notices can pile up fast. If you’ve ever found yourself tearing your house apart looking for a bank statement, tax receipt, or other important paper, you know how hard it can be to find these when you need them. But when you know exactly where important financial documents are, you can save time and money and avoid stress.

Getting Organized

Keeping track of your financial documents begins the moment you receive a paper bill, text, or email. Here are a few ways to organize your finances and records, both electronically and physically.

Electronic Records

More and more people are moving toward a paperless world. If you do most of your banking and other financial transactions online, here are a few tips that can help you stay organized:

  • Organize documents in folders. Make folders on your computer for different subjects for quick and easy access to your important records. Folder subjects might include mortgage documents, tax records, monthly bank statements, and confirmation numbers.
  • Keep your emails organized. You can also set up folders in your email account, so you can easily move important financial emails as you get them. If you get text alerts or confirmation numbers, forward them to your email account, and then save the email to your finance folder.
  • Keep a backup. Make sure you back up of all your files on a flash or external hard drive. Computers crash all of the time, and recreating all those records is no fun.
  • Use smartphone apps. Take advantage of the many smartphone apps available. You can set reminders to pay bills or get alerts when your balance is low or you’re close to going over your credit card limit. Many apps are free.
  • Keep electronic copies.  If you have hard copies of financial papers, scan them and save them to your computer.

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Paper Records

Keeping your paper records organized not only eliminates stacks of paper bills, but the stress of wondering if you threw something important away. Smart organizational tips for your hard copies include:

  • Keep separate files for each subject. Just like you did for the computer, label folders for hard copies of mortgage, car, utility bills, tax and other documents.
  • Keep your documents together in one place. You don’t even need a file cabinet to store your files. A large binder can hold of all of your records and doesn’t take up much space. Organize your binder the same way you would a file cabinet. Tabbed dividers make finding documents easy.
  • Keep sensitive documents in a safe. Certain documents, including birth certificates and passports, should be stored in a safe. Add a list of important bank, insurance, credit card and medical account numbers, including phone contact information to the documents you store in your safe.

Keeping good financial records is smart for a number of reasons. It reduces stress, eliminates endless paper piles, and makes your important financial information easy to find.

What do you do to stay organized? Share your tips!

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