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Clean Desk, Clean Finances – Steps to Streamline Money Management

If your financial life is confined to boxes, file cabinets and various piles that only you can navigate, it might be time to pause and reset your financial records. Build a financial recordkeeping system that not only saves you time and money, but helps you reach financial goals faster. Here’s how to get started:

Know Your Goals 

Before reorganizing, think about your current financial objectives and what changes may help you better achieve them. It has to be a system (whether paper or computer) that works for you!

Be Prepared for an Emergency 

If something were to happen to you, could a loved one easily navigate through your finances? Considering creating an In Case of Emergency (ICE) file as a quick reference guide to find the following:

  • Contact information for doctors, financial and tax advisors
  • Locations for all essential estate documents
  • Ownership documents for major assets
  • Usernames and passwords for internet-based accounts
  • Contact information and statement access for all accounts
  • An up-to-date list of monthly bills that need to be paid on time
  • All insurance information

Know When to Let Go

It’s important to know which files to keep. Some general rules:

  • All tax-related documents for up to seven years
  • Statements that show a gain or sale of a security or major asset
  • Deeds, titles and insurance policies
  • Birth and death certificates
  • Marriage licenses and divorce decrees
  • Store and ATM receipts
  • Credit Card Statements
  • After a year, monthly bank account statements (unless you qualify for Medicaid)

Keep a Backup

Consider keeping copies at a secure offsite location or with a trusted friend or relative. If you’ve gone digital, external hard drives or cloud storage are possibilities.