Is that huge pile of bills, receipts and bank statements on the desk just too daunting to contemplate? With tax season underway and spring cleaning around the corner, now is the perfect time to stop procrastinating and get your financial house in order.
Financial organization builds money awareness—a key component to financial health and well-being. Fortunately, there are plenty of user-friendly online tools and programs like Mint.com and online banking that now make managing and tracking personal finances much easier. But if you’re drowning in financial paperwork, stressed about that financial ‘to-do’ list, dreading that overflowing file cabinet in the back of the office closet—follow these three simple steps to start making sense of cents.
1) Get Organized!
Keeping documents organized will make it a lot easier to find them when needed and will help to avoid stress, frustration and lost time. All financial papers can essentially be broken down into the following categories: bills due, important documents to keep, and items to discard or shred.
2) Know Each Document’s Shelf Life
Accidentally tossing important financial documents can be stressful, while storing every statement of the last 10 years can be overwhelming and unnecessary. Here’s a brief breakdown of what to stash or shred:
Tax returns. It is recommended to keep these for seven years. If the IRS wants to audit returns they generally have between 3-6 years to go back from the date they were filed.
Bank and investment account statements. Luckily with the internet it’s simple to pull up electronic copies of bank and investment account statements at any time. This eliminates the need to keep every single paper statement, although it’s a good idea to review each paper statement received and if they are quarterly, keep them until the next statement arrives.
Bills and receipts. It’s recommended to keep utility and credit card bills for a year after checking to make sure the information is accurate. Mistakes can happen and if there’s a copy of the statement readily available it can make it easy to dispute an error—the same goes for receipts.
3) Keep Information Under Lock and Key
Identity or credit card theft can be a traumatic and disabling experience, and its negative repercussions can linger long after the crime is committed. Shred old utility bills and even unused credit card offers, since they can be prime targets for thieves.It’s also recommended to keep all documents in a locked container or locked filing cabinet—but don’t lose the key!
If financial management is causing added stress and strain in life, contact ACI Specialty Benefits, your free employee assistance program, for financial consultation and other helpful resources: (800) 932-0034 or email@example.com.