Tips for Organizing Your Finances

Photo: Tamara Adam

With all the financial documents you could possibly have in your possession it can get a little difficult to keep track of all of them. Likewise, it may also be difficult to keep track of all those online accounts you have open. By consolidating your finances and organizing them into a system you can easily find what you need for taxes, retirement, or anything else that may come up.

Online Finances

Quite frankly, if you’re aren’t taking advantage of all the online options for your accounts you are really missing out. Being able to see your accounts online allows you instant access and can help you in determining where your money is coming from and where it’s going – and this applies to anything from your checking to your pension.

It can get pretty difficult to keep track of all these accounts so consolidating them is your best bet. For instance, have your regular checking and savings connected to one external account at an online bank like ING Direct. From ING you can make multiple savings accounts for anything to car payments to taxes.

You can also use your bank’s portfolio option to connect to any other accounts you may have, like retirement or brokerage accounts. Furthermore, you can link them to your credit cards and loans and have everything in front of you.

As for keeping track of which money is going where make a spreadsheet with all your accounts and their functions. You can also record your log in information on the spread sheet – however make sure to print the spread sheet out and keep it in a safe place so you can delete all the information from your computer. This will ensure that you never forget your passwords and reduce the risk of online identity theft.

Hard Copies of Financial Information

There are just some financial documents that you shouldn’t throw out. Payment stubs, tax returns, and investment statements are just a few of the documents you should always have a hard copy of just in case.

Organizing them, however, can prove to be quite a task if you do not create some sort of file system. All you really need is a file box and some hanging file folders in order to create an archive of financial history.  Below you will find some examples of folders you should have in your file system.

  • Taxes – You should have a separate folder for each year that you files taxes in case you ever get audited. This is particularly important if you freelance or run your own business.
  • Tax Deductions - This will only apply to the current year (you can file away old deductions in the corresponding tax folder). Document any deductions you may be able to claim the next time you file taxes. This includes receipts, credit card bills, and bank statements.
  • Pay Stubs - Whether you are getting paid bi-weekly by a company or receive payments through PayPal keep a record of all the money that is coming in.
  • Retirement - Any documentation that refers to a pension or individual retirement account.
  • Bills – Any hard copy of a bill that comes in organized by date.
  • Credit Cards - Agreements, statements, outstanding balances, or anything having to do with your credit card accounts.
  • Loans - Any information regarding car loans, student loans, business loans, or personal loans should be stored in this folder in order to keep track of your debts.
  • Investments – Keep track of all your investments and earnings.
  • Contracts – Any contract regarding money, like a cell phone contract or gym membership.

If you keep an organized archive of your finances – both online and off – it will become easier to manage your money. It also saves you a lot time you would waste figuring out what needs to get paid or looking for important documents. Bottom line is when it comes to your finances organization really pays.

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