Sue's husband, Fred, was even less organized than Patty. He left managing the finances to Patty. When Mike and I tried to help them get a handle on where their money was going, we discovered forgotten bank accounts and a self-directed IRA that Patty had opened while she was working for a mortgage company, intending to buy and sell stocks as investment for retirement. She had forgotten all about it.
My husband, a careful and precise record keeper was appalled, but I reminded him that most people don't know what financial records to keep and where to store them.
Let me give you a few tips on getting your financial records started, stored, and how to maintain them.
Financial records, like legal documents are important to be able to get to when you need them. My answer to everything administrative is to make a folder.
Store your file folders in a file cabinet or file folder tote. Label each folder clearly in large lettering. File folders alphabetically or in an order that makes sense to you. We find old file cabinets at garage sales and buy folders in bulk at Office Depot or your local print shop. .
I am going to recommend something that we do in our home. Group your folders in sections based on temporary, annual, permanent, and dead storage.
Temporary folders will contain 6 month warranties, a short-term loan (3-9 months) from parents, coupons or rebates that will expire within 6 months. If you are making payments for tuition, you might have a Tuition Payment folder in your temporary file system.
Annual folders in our home are mostly related to taxes. We have folders where we store information we will need at tax time. There are also annual taxes, like property taxes, that we have to pay once a year. In Florida, we have to renew our homestead exemption once a year which involves another folder in the annual section. There are also taxes and registrations that we have to pay the government for our business...more folders in the annual folder system.
Permanent folders are the ones you use day in and day out. Here are some folders you might want to fill in your brand new financial file system.
- Home appraisal
- Homeowner's insurance policy
- Home improvement receipts
- Mortgage papers
- Lease agreement, if renting
- Car titles
- Service record for each car
- Insurance policies for each car
- Owner's manuals and key codes
- Car loans and leases
- Service contracts
- Car warranties
- Mutual funds
- Life insurance policies
- Savings accounts and passbooks
- Bank statements and deposit slips
- Checking account statements, balanced
- Checking account statements, unbalanced
- Cancelled checks
- Certificates of Deposit
- Net worth statement
- Credit card contracts
- Loan contracts
- Credit card numbers and notification requirements
- List of all account numbers
- Inventory of household goods for insurance
- Appliances and equipment receipts, warranties, service charges, and manuals
- Heating and air-conditioning receipts, warranties, service charges, and manuals
- Military/Veteran information
- Social Security earnings
- Retirement/Sick leave
- Budget and expenditures
- Tax information for current year
- Paid receipts
- Wallet inventory
- Safety deposit box or home safe inventory
- Copy of will
- Valuable papers inventory
- Burial agreements and receipts
- Letters of last instructions
- Genealogy records
- Copy of other people's wills
Merey (Meredith Ludwig Curtis)