Organizing your Financial Paperwork

About a month ago I showed you 10 simple steps to simplify your finances...and hopefully everyone got a chance to make some changes towards dealing with money in a more streamlined fashion. If you missed the original post- check it out here and then read on for the nitty gritty on keeping all of your financial paperwork tidy.  My fabulous friend has agreed once more to give away a few insider tips that she uses with her financial coaching clients- tips that absolutely anyone can benefit from because we all know how easy it is to let paperwork get out of control!  

Organizing your financial paperwork

Cut down on paper and simplify your filing by doing things online. Download your statements to your computer but make sure you back up your computer! Some banks are starting to charge fees for sending paper statements so let this be your motivation! Sign up for emails for all of your accounts. If you have any investments (401k, 403b, etc), you know what it’s like to receive every prospectus for every mutual fund. Sign up to receive those electronically!

Use your email account. I buy a lot of things online so I have an email folder titled “Business Expenses” and another for “Purchases”. I drag the email to its appropriate folder as soon as I receive it.

Container Store
Keep it accessible. My file folders for the current year’s tax-related documents and business expenses are right in the front of the cabinet and very accessible. If necessary, consider creating subcategories such as a folder for each month of the year, income vs. expenses, personal vs. business, etc.

Record keep as you go. When you get a receipt that’s tax-related, write a description on the back of it- right then! The small descriptions on receipts from the store are not always easy to decipher. Don’t try to remember what you bought from CVS for $12 a year later when it’s time to file your taxes.

Box ‘em up. Use cute storage boxes for checkbooks and check registers. You can keep old and new together in the same box separated by a colored sheet of paper. This gets them off the desk or out of the junk drawers! Throw a calculator in there too!   

Create your space. I have a very pretty desk in a nice home office where I do most of my work (including typing this blog post). But for some reason, I always pay bills or balance the checkbook while sitting at the coffee table in my living room. Why you ask? I have no idea! For some reason, this is where I’m comfortable when it comes time to pay my bills. I’ve decided to stop fighting it and instead, created a way keep it all organized and hidden at the same time. I keep all of the necessary tools close by- tucked into a drawer near my coffee table. Maybe it’s the dining room table or maybe it’s in your bed- as long as it’s organized and you’re getting it done, I say more power to ya!
    Container Store
Come up with a mail processing system. For this step, you may need to spend a few dollars- but it will be worth it. Invest in some folders, a file box, and a mail sorter. As mail comes in, put it into a folder in the “mail sorter”. My categories are: “to file,” “to pay,” and “action.” Every week I pull the papers from those folders and place in their appropriate file box. You may not need to invest in a full-size file cabinet- just someplace to keep papers safely once they've been attended to.

Hide the super important stuff. Invest a little bit of extra money into a fire-safe container for your passports, wills, social security cards, and birth certificates. Keep it under your bed since you don’t need to access it very often.
    Create a “Love Box.” This next topic is not a fun one, but it’s incredibly important. Please, make this one of your resolutions this year! If you were to pass away today, will your spouse know where everything is? Is he or she aware of your monthly bills and due dates, insurance policies, the bank accounts, how to log in, your investments, etc? In most households, one person oversees the finances and this is an important way to say “I love you.” Your box should include funeral instructions and your will, but also life insurance policies, a list of all your accounts and account numbers, websites and login information for your accounts, as well as a list of your expenses and due dates. Keep it locked and in your fire-safe container.
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Great ideas! I really think the last one is super important- and honestly something I never really thought kudos to her for bringing it to the forefront of my mind.

My friend who authored this post is based out of Phoenix, AZ and specializes in face to face financial coaching.  However, she is offering distance coaching (phone and email interaction) at a discounted price to all of my wonderful readers. 
From her website:
I offer personal financial coaching. I can help you create a budget that fits your needs, design a plan to pay down debt, get on the same page with your spouse, create a solid yet easy system for paying your bills, or save for any number of future goals! I can teach you how to talk to your kids about money, educate your child or grandchild before they go off to college, or guide a new couple.

Are you ready to take control of your life but you’re not sure how? Let me show you!

Check out the details at and give her a call. I promise you will not be disappointed!

1 comment:

  1. Very helpful information. Thanks so much... Now, how to do I manage my EMAIL? LOL! It can get overwhelming.



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