Ever been late paying a bill that became lost in a pile of paper? Could anyone make sense of your finances if something happened to you?
Organizing your finances and important documents helps to reduce clutter and assures you’ll be prepared for whatever life throws your way.
Here are some ways to help you get organized:
Manage your bills
Whether you’re a paper person or you like to manage things electronically, make sure to gather all your bill-paying materials in one place.
Use a file drawer or a cardboard box to organize your bills according to when they are due. Include a schedule showing all these due dates in one place. Then, file bills according to whether they are outstanding or paid.
You can simplify this system by using your financial institution’s online banking and billpay program. Sign up for electronic statements from your bank or credit union and take advantage of direct deposit and payroll deduction. You’ll have less paper to file, digital access to months or years of account history, and less need to write checks.
Disaster-proof your records
Secure important papers and contact information in a fireproof, waterproof container and keep it in a safe location where it’s easy to grab in an emergency.
Your grab-and-go kit should contain:
• Certified copies of birth and marriage certificates
• A list of bank accounts and passwords
• Insurance information
• Contact numbers for family physicians and relatives
• Key military paperwork
• Proof of residency
Start a financial notebook
Someday it may fall to others to sort out your finances. Save them countless hours by keeping a financial notebook. Put it in your safe-deposit box or another secure location they can quickly access if something ever happens to you.
At a minimum, your financial notebook should contain:
• A list of family members and their contact information
• Personal records, such as birth certificates
• The location of important documents
• Insurance and health records
• Information about your loans and financial accounts
• Your latest 1040 tax form
• Your inventory of personal property
• A list of your real estate holdings, vehicles, and investments
• Retirement planning documents
Finally, make sure your notebook includes all your important estate planning documents, such as a copy of your will, advance directives, powers of attorney, and letters of instruction.