By Erin Huffstetler | 01/16/2014 | 13 Comments
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Need to do something to whip your financial records into shape? Let’s create a binder for them.
Here’s a printable cover that you can use to dress up your binder.
And now that we have that taken care of, let’s talk about what needs to go inside. Everyone’s finances are different, so I recommend you start by sorting through all of your financial records to get a handle on what you have. Take the time to shred the stuff that you no longer need, and group like items into piles. If your current system hasn’t been working well for you, make a list of what hasn’t been working, and see if there are ways to address that.
When I reviewed my family’s financial records over the holidays, I quickly came to the conclusion that we had more categories than we needed, so I worked to simplify our filing system. Ultimately, these are the categories that I settled on for my binder:
- Current Loans
- Past Loans
Pretty simple, right?
And once I had that figured out, putting my binder together was a breeze. I bought a pack of pocket dividers, created a tab for each category and now I have a spot to tuck everything.
Because I’m all about keeping financial goals front and center, I made our mortgage amortization table the first page of my binder. Now, every time I open it up, I’ll be reminded of our goal of paying our mortgage off early.
More About My Categories
Most of the categories in my binder are pretty self-explanatory, but there are a few that I want to touch on briefly. First I’d like to talk about my current and past loans tabs. In the past, I’ve had a folder for each loan, but that just felt more complicated than it needed to be, so I took it down to two folders. The current loans folder holds a copy of our mortgage contract and the contracts for any other loans that we have outstanding. It also holds a copy of the most recent statement for each. When the new bills/statements come in the mail, I’ll tuck them inside the folder, and shred the previous statement. This should eliminate the need for yearly file purges. Yay for that!
The past loans folder serves a very specific – and important – purpose: when we get something paid off (a credit card, car loan, etc.) I tuck proof of repayment in this folder. This gives me a record to go to, if we ever need to contest an error on our credit report, and it also happens to be fantastically motivating. There’s nothing like going over your past financial successes to fuel your excitement for your current financial goals.
And finally, a few words about my credit folder … This folder holds a copy of our most recent credit report. It also includes letters showing anytime a credit account has been closed at our request. Account closures can sometimes be recorded wrong on your credit report – and it’s nice to have proof that an account was closed at your request – and not because of a financial misstep.
Working to get your filing cabinet under control? Stick with me as I share my binder system, and I’ll give you everything you need to get the job done. Here are the steps that I’ve shared so far:
- How to Organize Family Records
- How to Organize House Records
- How to Organize Users’ Manuals
- How to Organize Auto Records
- How to Set Up a Household Notebook
- How to Organize Tax Records
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