Disorganized financial records are not only a pain to deal with (especially when you’re trying to hunt something specific down) but they can also pose a deeper risk when you realize all too late that you’ve had an account sitting dormant for years with money you could have used.
To avoid missing something important like that, as well as to keep your own sanity, be sure to follow these tips on keeping your financial ducks in a row.
- Reassess your budget regularly. Provided you have a budget in place, it’s important to revisit it each month to ensure it still gels with your financial goals. You’ll need to make revisions to it as your bills come in, adjusting other expenses accordingly – especially when it comes to fluctuating factors such as electric bills. In months where your expenses are especially high, you may have to cut back in other areas. For instance, you may have to pack a lunch for work one week and cut back to one dinner out.
- Create a filing system. If your papers are stuffed in a drawer all jumbled up, it’s time you invested in a filing cabinet and color coded folders. Label each section and add to them as you get stock statements, bills, and receipts throughout the month. Protecting your financial investment papers is of extra importance. Create a binder for every account or brokerage firm you have. This will come in handy at tax time, or should you notice any discrepancies over time. Keep all monthly statements until you get the annual summary statement, at which time you can shred the previous 12 to save space.
- Set up bins for better organizing. Before you get to the filing stage, it’s important to organize your documents as they come in. Pick up a few in-boxes or bins and label each one: Bills To Be Paid, To Do/Read, File, and Shred. Whenever you receive a statement from your broker, get a bill in the mail, or get paperwork from the bank, place it in the appropriate bin. Then, even if you can’t get to it right away, it will be there in the right place when you do get to it.
- Stay on track. While filing isn’t in itself a dreadful chore, the hard part comes when you try to catch up on piles and piles of paperwork after neglectingthe task. Schedule time in your day (yes, go ahead and set an alarm on your phone or put it on your to-do list just like grocery shopping) to devote to filing. It should only take a few minutes if you do it every day. A good time for this is right after the mail comes, or after dinner or when the kids are in bed: find the best time for you where you can get a couple minutes to yourself.
When it comes to stock statements, it’s important to peruse them carefully before stashing them in the filing cabinet. Check them against your own records to make sure they match. Stock fraud is all too prevalent in this country, so do what you can to protect yourself by having a company like the Thomas Law Group on hand. They are stock fraud attorneys who can help you in case you need them.