Financial Records the Importance of Creating An Effective Filing System

 by: Michael Saunders

In order to effectively reduce your debts and fix your credit history, you are going to have understand proper organization and effective ways to keep track of your financial records. To make an effective filing system, experts recommend alphabetizing your relevant documents by subject or category. But don't make the mistake of having too many or too few categories. A dozen broad categories should be the maximum in any filing system. Therefore, a sample file index might include categories for:

• Banking records (including checking and savings accounts)

• Bills paid (where you file regular monthly expenses)

• Budget (for itemized listings of all your expenses, income and assets)

• Credit cards (useful for storing receipts, statements and contracts)

• Insurance (auto, health, life and property insurance records)

• Investments (such as 401(k) and mutual fund reports)

• Mortgage

• Receipts


Once you've gotten your files labeled, you may wonder how long you should keep certain financial documents. As a rule, you should keep old tax records for at least seven years because that's how far back the law allows the IRS to go when it wants to audit you. You should also hang on indefinitely to your stock, bond and mutual fund statements - mainly because if you sell any of those investments later, you may need to demonstrate the cost basis of your investment to the IRS. However, you don't need to keep those prospectuses that mutual fund companies mail you each quarter, so you can safely toss those.

Maintaining Your Filing System  (continued...)
Financial Records the Importance of Creating An Effective Filing System
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About The Author

Michael Saunders has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He edits a site on Credit Repair and Debt Consolidation and is president of Information Organizers, LLC.

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