Nan Jensen, Extension Agent Family and Consumer Sciences
Spring cleaning is a tradition that allows us to freshen up our homes and get a head start on the hectic months ahead. Most times we think of spring cleaning as washing the windows, cleaning out the pantry and refrigerator, and other related tasks. But it’s financial literacy month so why not take some time to “spring clean your financial home”.
Since financial troubles are the biggest source of stress in our lives it is important to get a handle on our money and where it goes. One of the first steps to managing money is getting our financial records organized. This can be an overwhelming task, especially when you consider the amount of financial paperwork that we receive on a monthly basis. It’s easy to lose track of everything you need, but a good organizing system can keep things right at your fingertips.
Start out with your home filing system. Create folders for each major category. Some examples include health, job, banking, credit cards, taxes, home, automobiles, insurance, major purchases, and other loans. Go through your received mail file at least weekly and sort everything into these folders. A folder for the current tax year is important so you can easily access those records come tax time. On a regular basis, either twice a year or annually, go through each of your folders and clear out anything that is no longer needed. If you have folders that are full, separate them out by year, and store newer information in the front of your file drawer, so that it’s more accessible. To help you decide where and how long to keep records, Financial Recordkeeping: Organizing Your Financial Life is a great publication to have on hand.
While organizing can take some time in the beginning, having all of your financial information and other family records organized will make the financial part of your life much easier.
For more information on finances and other money issues check out Money Matters.