As you work on getting your house and yard ready for spring, take the time to do the same with your finances. Now is as good a time as any to organize your records, throw away old paperwork and take a look at your finances to see how you can improve in 2018. Read on for four home organization tips to help you live your best financial life.
1. Schedule automatic bill payments
Consider setting up a bill payment schedule for expenses like heat, rent or mortgage and internet. Not only does this take one extra thing off your to-do list each month, but automatic payments can also help you avoid annoying late fees. Use a tool like Summit’s free online bill payer to make it even easier. For bills or products that you can’t pay automatically, try to stay more organized by using calendar reminders, or setting up transaction alerts for upcoming bills with Summit’s free Climbr tool.
2. Manage your records
When was the last time you organized your financial records? Give your desk drawer a little TLC by separating important documents into three piles – keep, recycle and copy. Any files that make it into the keep pile should be stored in a safe location that you can easily access. Past bill statements, instruction manuals for old products and receipts can all be placed in a pile to be recycled or shredded. Lastly, try to carve out a little time in your always busy day to make copies of important documents for safe keeping, or confirm the location of electronic copies so you can then shred the physical copies. Electronic copies are more versatile, but make sure you always back them up to an external hard drive or the cloud just in case.
Not sure if you should be holding onto a financial document or throwing it away? The IRS recommends keeping tax documents and receipts for at least six years, or as long as you can be audited or held liable for them. Keep copies of your tax returns forever, as they can be useful in helping prepare for future tax returns and serve as proof that you filed taxes during those years. It’s also a good idea to hold onto copies of important documents like proof of insurance, lease or mortgage documents and medical records.
3. Organize your mail
When you receive mail, consider separating it into piles such as documents that require further action, papers to shred and papers that can be recycled. By maintaining an organization system and storing everything in a consistent space, you’ll be less likely to misplace important documents in your home.
4. Monitor your financial activity
Check your billing statements periodically for suspicious activity. Financial institutions are better than ever at alerting customers to problematic activity. However, you are your own best resource when it comes to tracking your money. Keep tabs on your finances with a budget spreadsheet or with Climbr, or plan a date with yourself (and maybe a glass of wine!) to check in on your finances and review your budget to make sure it’s working as hard as it can.
Got questions? Stop by or give us a call. We’re always happy to chat about savings, retirement, investments or anything else that’s on your mind.