Start Organizing Your Financial Documents Today

start organizing your financial documents

Many years ago, as computers became more popular, there was a lot of talk about a “paperless society”. While that has happened in some respects, most days we still deal with a lot of paper based documents. A good example of this is your financial documents.  Some of them may be eDocuments, but I bet you still have lots of paper to deal with too. When it comes to your financial documents would you say that you are well organized or that you toss everything in a pile hoping that you will find it if you ever need it?

Let’s talk about how to organize your stuff including pay stubs, tax receipts, tax returns, bank statements, retirement account statements, and so on.

Organizing Your Financial Documents

Do you have a filing cabinet at home with individual file folders and hanging folders? If you just said no, your first step is to buy some.  They are available at any office supply store. Also, if you do not have a filing cabinet, you can save some money by purchasing a portable plastic file box (shown further down).

organizing financial documents

Begin by creating hanging file folders and label them as follows:

Miscellaneous Receipts and Invoices

What do you do with receipts and invoices for your major purchases such as appliances, TV, computer, etc.? Do you toss them or keep them? Quite often it is important to keep them for warranty issues and it is equally important to keep them where you will easily find them months later. Create a hanging file folder for miscellaneous receipts. You can take it a step further and create individual file folders based on the types of receipts and invoices you have.

Create new folders as you work through each of the following categories.

Insurance Documents

Create a separate folder for life insurance documents, car insurance documents, home insurance and health insurance.

Investment Account Statements

Organize your investment account statements based on the financial institution and then in date order before filing them.

Household Accounts

Your household account folders should include a copy of your mortgage or rental agreement, along with home insurance and home equity loan statements.

Children’s Accounts

You may have started a college fund or savings account for your children and grandchildren. You should keep those statements in this folder so that you will have easy access to it in the future.

Retirement Account Statements

Figure out which ones you need to keep and organize these the same way you did for your investment statements.

Tax Returns

As you organize your financial documents, and prepare for tax season, make sure that you only keep copies of things that you really need.

Label a hanging folder with “Taxes” and then create a file folder for current tax receipts so that you will have them ready when it is time to do your tax return. If you have multiple receipts for different categories create file folders for each category. Remember to put the year in the top right hand corner of the file folder too.

Create separate hanging file folders labelled with “Tax Returns”. Label individual file folders by year, one for each past tax return. If you are not sure how long you need to keep past copies of your tax returns for, do a search online or ask your accountant.

Family Will and\or Trust

Include all copies of your will and trust documents, even if your lawyer already has a copy. Make sure that the person that you appointed as Executor and Administrator in these documents knows exactly where to find them in your home. There is no sense doing these documents and then hiding them.

file boxGather Up Your Financial Documents

Now that you have all of your files labeled you need to go through your home and find all of these documents and bring them together on the kitchen table. Organize them into piles based on the categories listed above. Then organize them by date and put them into each corresponding file folder in your filing cabinet or file box.

Don’t avoid doing this. It will really only take you a few hours to do, and once you get it done your financial documents will be organized for life, as long as you make it a habit to file new documents as you receive them.

Over to You

What system do you use to keep your financial documents organized?


    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

      Laurie @thefrugalfarmer 01/23/2014 6:42 a.m. #

      Great tips here, Sicorra! I am not an organizer by nature but we started using a file box for all of our financial stuff a few years ago and it was the best thing I've ever done, from an organizational standpoint. Now when we need a record of any kind, I know exactly where it is, and tax time is a breeze!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/23/2014 7:26 p.m. #

        Great to hear Laurie, and thanks! It is wonderful not to have to worry about where something is when you need it, esp if you are in a hurry, right?

    • Leslie Tayne

      Leslie Tayne 01/23/2014 8:52 a.m. #

      It pays to take the time to organize all necessary financial documents, including tax receipts, pay stubs, bank statements, etc. Come tax season, you will thank yourself for having all of this information at your fingertips. These documents will help you plan your financial future for retirement.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/23/2014 7:27 p.m. #

        So true Leslie! Organized and ready to plan for the future. Doesn't get much better.

    • Corina Ramos

      Corina Ramos 01/23/2014 1:24 p.m. #

      Hey Sicorra,

      I don't know if it's the Virgo in me but I have all my documents organized. Especially concerning my taxes. I give credit to my office job at AT&T. As the Sales Manager handling the budget we would be audited so I had to keep every paper trail. That's helped me keep my personal and business documents organized.

      The only downfall is I keep everything. I even have bill receipts from 2010 that I need to purge out this year. LOL.

      Great tips my friend! Hope you're having a productive day!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/23/2014 7:31 p.m. #

        Thanks Corina! Great to hear that you are super organized too. And I know what you mean about keeping everything. When I met my husband he had shoe boxes full of utility bills for the past 8 years. All neatly organized, but what the heck for? I ditched them LOL

        • Corina Ramos

          Corina Ramos 01/26/2014 8:30 p.m. #

          Girl, Mario had check stubs from freakin' 2001!! I made him shred those!

          I also had stuff from the kid's school like progress reports...I do not need that stuff so out they go :).

          Hope you had a great weekend Sicorra! Thanks for sharing this post with us!

          Talk to you soon! Have a great Monday!

    • Tanya @ Eat Laugh Purr

      Tanya @ Eat Laugh Purr 01/23/2014 4:21 p.m. #

      I'm honestly a bit hit or miss with this. I have a tendency to almost over-save so I ended up with a bunch stuff that I didn't need. I'm really good with business receipts, so at least I'm doing that right! And I love those filing boxes too. Very handy!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/23/2014 7:34 p.m. #

        Thanks Tanya! Many people over-save. I was just mentioning to Corina about the old habit my husband had of saving all paperwork for 8 or more years.

        The filing boxes are so nice and I love using them for all of our business invoices too.

    • Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh 01/24/2014 7:22 a.m. #

      Hi Sicorra,

      Yes indeed, it's vital to keep your financial documents in place, and I am grateful to my better half for taking over this major responsibility and saving me the trouble. He's made proper files and shelved things up very well, so there's never an issue finding things.

      Thanks for sharing. Happy weekend :)

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/25/2014 3:54 p.m. #

        Harleena, you are fortunate to have someone to look after all that for you and keep it organized. Once it is done it is easy to keep going too.

        Hope your weekend went well.

    • Liz

      Liz 01/24/2014 10:27 a.m. #

      Keeping our documents organized is always a work in progress! I've started to slowly stop using paper statements from my bank, mortgage credit card etc. I use the online statements and print the statement if I decide I do infact need it. Converting to digital statements has really helped me improve my organization because there are so many less papers to take care of!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/25/2014 3:56 p.m. #

        That is great to hear Liz! Taking advantage of online statements for banking and credit is definitely the way to go. We do that as well. The things I like to have on paper though are the mortgage and insurance documents.

    • Lisa

      Lisa 01/25/2014 4:15 a.m. #

      Sicorra, I used to be so good at this and I've really slipped this past year. I'm trying to go more paperless as well. I do have a filing cabinet and folders but I leave stuff on top of the cabinet to file later. Sometimes later never comes. Thanks for sharing the tips and getting us all motivated as tax season nears.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/25/2014 3:58 p.m. #

        Oh Lisa, I know exactly how you feel. Later never comes and the paper pile just keeps getting taller which makes us just want to tackle it even less. Hopefully you get some time to sort things out later this year. I know you have a lot going on and I'm sure this is a very low priority, understandably so.

    • Fig @ Figuring Money Out

      Fig @ Figuring Money Out 01/26/2014 6:27 p.m. #

      I have a filing case that I keep the main stuff in. I really want to be better about keeping important receipts in the right place. Currently that's one thing I'm not great at keeping track of! Everything else is mostly kept on my computer though that could use a backup. There is always something more to do. ;)

    • Christy Garrett @ Uplifting Families

      Christy Garrett @ Uplifting Families 01/28/2014 2:27 p.m. #

      I started gathering my documents so that we can do our personal taxes. I always hate this time of the year because I am always afraid that I am going to miss something.

    • Maggie@SquarePennies

      Maggie@SquarePennies 02/15/2014 4:31 p.m. #

      We file papers, etc. as they come in. Items that need attention go into an old briefcase. That briefcase contains stamps, envelopes, pens, and the checkbook. It's nice and portable so I can work on the bills anywhere. It has a somewhat firm surface that I can use as a table. It's my little portable desk!

    • Leslie H. Tayne Esq.

      Leslie H. Tayne Esq. 03/14/2014 10:58 a.m. #

      Great tips for organizing your financial information! Sure, it's tedious, time consuming and monotonous but you'll feel much better once it's done! It's easy to lose track of these important documents, so make sure you file them away in a safe and organized place within reach. You'll thank yourself for this during tax season!

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