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A quick guide to organising your financial records

Private wealth can sometimes be a difficult thing to control. Finding yourself in a situation where your funds and financial records are disorganised and all over the place is a
possible scenario in today’s busy world.

 

Here are a few profiles and situations people typically find themselves in:

  1. The pack rat has a tendency to hang on to every document that arrives in their letterbox in an overflowing file and in no particular order.
    Whenever the pack rat decides to go to his accountant, the bookkeeper often shudders at the scene.
  2. The over-saving maximalist organises everything effectively. Sadly, the over-saving maximalist has neat files which are bursting at the seams, and they
    are usually saving much more than they need to. Even though everything is well organised, whenever there is a need to audit a specific document there is simply no time to go
    through this paperwork.
  3. The smug minimalist has signed up for electronic bill-paying and online document delivery in an effort to reduce the flow of paper coming to their house.
    Nowadays, the mail they do receive mostly consists of takeout menus and real estate pamphlets.

Given the three profiles above, do any of the proposed fit your approach to managing financial paperwork? Quite the headache I can imagine.

No matter your approach, systems for organising physical financial documents are quickly becoming obsolete. Thanks to technology, it is possible to switch to a paperless
method for your financial records. You can now store these files electronically and/or access these records via your providers’ online portal.

When storing financial documents, security is significantly important. As technology is rapidly evolving, so are the rules to keep your data safe. This is good to keep in mind
whenever accessing your records. Whether you access these documents via your online portal, storage device or even on the cloud, it is always recommended that you maintain a
strong password that you do not share with anyone else, as well as change it now and again.

 

Here is some information on how to tackle and organise each category of financial records:

Investments

Chances are you will likely find your financial documents on your provider’s online portal. By opting out of mailed statements, you will be effectively decreasing the risk of cybercrime. The additional benefit is the environment; opting out of mailed statements will also help mother nature.

Banking

You can apply the same approach for banking – have a quick look at your bank’s website and see if you can readily access the documentation you need. Doing so can result in saving the most precious resource of all – your time.

Hard-to-Replace Official and Legal Documents

While the list of physical documents you need to save is shrinking, you will surely need to find somewhere safe for this small, handful of official files. This is a short-list of what we are referring to;

  • Birth Certificates
  • Original Social Security Cards
  • Death Records
  • Property Deeds
  • Will

Given the importance of these documents, some might decide to store these files in a safe-deposit box. It is fine to do this. Furthermore, it is also reasonable to have a trusted person as the owner of the box with power of attorney in your name, so they can access it in the event that you become incapacitated. Nevertheless, keeping these documents in a home safe or fireproof box would be a smarter, safer, and in some situations, cheaper approach.

Home-Related Documents

For your real estate investments, hold documentation related to purchase, refinancing, and home loans in a safe and secure place. Also, keeping a running file of any home-related improvements or upgrades made, including legal and real-estate fees incurred would be a good idea. If you have sold a property, hang on to those documents for a minimum of ten years.

Receipts for Valuables

Scan the receipts given when purchasing valuables and keep them on your computer. Additionally, you can also upload them to the cloud or an external device for extra security and safekeeping. With regard to keeping your valuables properly documented, taking a photo/video of your home’s contents every six months or so would be an excellent practice. This is particularly useful for insurance purposes in case of fire or theft.

 

Recap

In essence, after reading this article these are the following subjects you should do some further research on:

  • Gone are the days of physical documents, keep everything digital.
  • Go on your online provider’s portal and check if the documents you need, like bank statements, are provided on their system.
  • Start researching on cloud based storage systems that fit your needs.
  • Always remember to keep your financial records safe and secure, with backups on the cloud and on an external device.
  • Keep your official and legal documents safe and in check by securing them in an easily accessible location.
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