Organize Your Financial Paperwork

If you got started on tracking your Net Worth last week, you may have noticed that you have a lot of paperwork and it can be hard to find all that you need when you need it.  Over the next couple of weeks I will be walking you through how I organize our financial paper work.  We will also delve into ways to keep electronic accounts in order and creating systems to maintain it all

Stay with me now.  It’s about to get real, but I am going to walk you through it one step at a time, so don’t get scared off.

Can you just imagine your entire financial life in one, organized space?  Can you imagine needing a document and knowing where it is without having to sort through all of the piles on every flat surface in your home?  To be overcharged for a bill you have already paid and know exactly where the receipt to dispute the claim is and being only a minor irritant in your day instead of a full blown crisis?

Tax papers, Social Security mailings, bills, credit card balances and agreements, student loans, mortgage papers, insurance documents all in one home – not scattered about your house in various boxes.  You’ll love it – once it’s done.

The process itself is a little tedious, but let’s just knock it out and then celebrate afterwards, shall we?

My paperwork started out in several random cardboard banker’s boxes filled with newspaper clippings, photo envelopes, kid’s craft papers, pay stubs, and yeah, pretty much a lot of scattered junk, and oh yes, my most important financial documents.  It was not pretty.

Don’t be like the old me. Do this instead.

  • Financial File Box
  • Mail/Processing In-box
  • Binder
  • List of Accounts and websites
  • Password Systems

ACTIONABLE STEP: For now, just gather all of the paper stacks in the house.  Set in one spot with multiple boxes to sort into piles.  It’s best if you have a flat surface like the dining room table or the living room floor that is cleared away for separate piles. Sort through the junk mail and toss it into a laundry basket used for recycle.  If you have papers you are concerned about shredding – and you have a shredder, set that up.  But mostly just be done with it!  If you don’t have a shredder – I have resorted to this bizarre yet  – free and genius   – work around: wet the papers in the sink and let the ink run and become unrecognizable. Once they aren’t sodden and the sink is drained you can throw them in a grocery sack and dispose as regular trash. Throw in some old coffee grinds and egg shells for good measure. The point here is this – DON’T get deterred.

Just sit and sort .  It’s best if you have at least 3 boxes/laundry baskets for sorting and big ol’ recycle can.

  • Keep – Financial.  Set aside for financial file box day.  No need to file now – just save.
  • Keep – Non-Finance Set aside for file cabinet day – No need to file now – just sort.
  • Keep – Memorabilia – Set aside for Memorabilia day – No need to store now, just
  • Recycle/Trash
  • Secure Trash

This is no picnic so have a reward for yourself when you are finished with stage one.  Perhaps a bonfire with friends that can double as a secure trash disposal, or a movie night with your favorite bottle of wine or pint of ice cream.  Maybe it’s a bubble bath and a candle and your best cup of tea.  I don’t care what it is – as long as you do.the.work. and then enjoy.the.reward.  Even if you think this is silly – please just try it out – I don’t want you getting burnt out before you begin!

 

 

 

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