Decluttering Your Financial Life

It's time for spring cleaning and there is no better time to put your documents in order than now.

If you were asked for your birth certificate, year-end bank statement or even vaccination records - could you find them? Keeping your records organized is crucial should you encounter a natural disaster (think of all those flooded basements last August), face a health problem or meet with a financial planner.  An organized system will simplify your life and help you to avoid a scavenger hunt every time you need something.

Your first step is to determine where you will store your information. Records you need frequently should be kept at home, preferably in a fireproof/waterproof unit. Items that are irreplaceable like passports, birth certificates, vehicle titles, should be in a safe deposit box.

Your next step is to appoint one record-keeper to be responsible for management, but make sure all family members know where everything is kept. Being the chief record-keeper is not the most pleasant of tasks but if completed on a weekly basis, it needn't be a dreaded one either.

While you are organizing, take the time to get rid of outdated and unnecessary documents that aren't worth the shoebox you have them saved in. Dispose of records properly and invest in a cross-cut shredder. For items in your safe deposit box, keep an inventory list and photocopies of any documents you have stored in case you need to refer to them.

Now you are ready to get organized. Choose a system you will most likely use.

Simple solutions work best. Here's a suggested system:

Amy Persyn is the Director of Marketing at First State Bank.