A few weeks ago I shared that summer is a great time for a Financial Checkup. With the warmer weather and sunny days, we tend to to be in better spirits and think clearer. If you’re just getting started venturing out on your own, it can seem a little daunting. Here are some basic suggestions to get you going:
- Start a filing system
- Start with what you have (shoe boxes, sharpies, smartphone)
- Keep originals and at least one digital copy (scan/take pictures of documents and save to a safe digital file, not on your phone/laptop)
- Store it in a closet or high shelf to avoid water damage, pets or curious friends
- Create folders for each category
- School records – transcripts, address and contact info for schools attended from kindergarten to most recent, including list of online courses, certifications, licenses, etc
- Medical records – copy of birth certificate and complete history of immunizations, dental, eye exams, physicals, family doctors, physicians, injuries, treatments and any immediate family major health diagnosis (cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes)
- Insurance records – separate into sub-folders as needed (Car, Home, Health, Life, Disability)
- Financial records – separate into sub-folders as needed (Banking, Health Savings, Credit Cards, Car Loan, Student Loan, Lease/Mortgage, Payment plans). If you have online access to monthly statements, it’s not necessary to print them – unless you are reporting a business expense or other tax deduction.
- Investment records – keep these separate. Save quarterly statements until you have the annual statement. Save the annual statement as long as that money is invested, to keep a trail of buy/sells/trades.
- Major Purchases – receipts, warranties, insurance, serial numbers, photographs, manuals
- Taxes – download to digital storage and print a copy of your completed federal and state returns, including all schedules, attachments and supporting documents for each year. Keep each year in separate sub-folder. Keep at least 7 years of returns for audit purposes.
- Legal records – Passport, copy of Will, Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, Emergency contact info
Having access to your personal financial records is vital for financial wellness. It reduces anxiety when you need to find something quickly or an emergency comes up.
At the end of the day, the proof of burden is on you. Keep good records, keep them secure and have a backup copy. There are so many great file storage tools available, as well as safes and lock boxes at many community banks (usually less than $30 per year).