Do you need to organise your financial paperwork? In this post, based on the guest post I did for the Money Mechanics blog, I will give you some tips on how to do just that. I understand that, when just the idea that you need to organise your financial paperwork is overwhelming, getting the task done seems impossible.
Tips to Organise Your Financial Paperwork
If you’re like most of my clients, you take a look at your filing pile and you want to run for the hills. The biggest mistake most people make is they try to complete it all in one hit. You don’t need to. Do five minutes a day, until it’s done.
In your 5 minutes, spend 3 minutes deciding if it’s being kept, recycled or shredded. Sort them into categories (examples to come). Then with your other 2 minutes, file them away. I call this the 60/40 time split. You might need to create files for them. Be sure to name them with something you’ll remember. When you return for your next session, repeat the exercise.
Create common categories for your financial folders. There are many folders you might have set up. I will list the essentials. Some of you may feel uncomfortable parting with bank statements, for instance, so you might want to set up extra folders. If you would like more guidance on what papers to keep, read my blog post on keeping paperwork.
Have a folder for your tax files each year. It might be an arch lever folder with tabs if you need it or a hanging file. All tax-related receipts and PAYG summaries will go here. If you expect to have lots, and you expect you will need to access them again, you may want subcategories. Examples for personal tax are donations, medical, shares/investments, computer depreciation, car.
If you have a business you should consider how you’re likely to want to access them again. For instance, you’ll probably want a particular receipt so save them under categories rather than the date they were received. You won’t remember when you paid the electricity bill but you will know it’s a utility and saved under that tab. Some examples are car expenses, utilities, stationery, computer expenses, subcontractors, insurance, networking, travels and so on.
Always have your folder set up for this financial year, to keep you ahead of the game!
These days most of us have superannuation fund(s) so this is a must-have folder. If you have multiple funds have a subfolder for each. I personally keep only the most recent statement. When the new one arrives, I shred the oldest. This means I don’t have to do a yearly cull. Decide what’s comfortable for you.
If you have several funds, consider combining them and seeing your financial planner for the best outcome. Don’t pay fees where you don’t have too!
If you have shares and investments (good on you!) then you’ll need a hanging file for this. For each type (if you have multiple) create a subfolder for each. For example, the over-arching folder name would be ‘Shares’, and the subfolders would be ‘Microsoft’, ‘Cadbury’, and ‘Westpac’. With investments, it would be much the same, ‘Property Investments’ and then the subfolders for each property for instance.
If you have different insurances, create a hanging file for them. You would have subfolders for the different types. For instance, ‘Insurances’ would be the over-arching heading, followed by ‘Home Insurance’, ‘Car Insurance’, ‘Life Insurance’ and so on.
Other financial papers
Do you have other categories? Think about how you intend to access them again (or why you would), to help you decide on the file name. Don’t forget to ask yourself the question ‘Do I really need to file this?’ as sometimes you don’t need them as they are accessible elsewhere, like online. You might find the tips in my blog post ‘Maintain a Slim Filing System without a Major Purge‘ useful too.
Ask for help
If you find that you just can’t figure it out (or don’t want to because it bores you to tears), ask for help. Professional Organisers like me love your paperwork! We can organise your financial paperwork and then you’ll be prepared to see your financial planner or accountant!
So go on, get stuck into a five minute session of organising your financial papers, or call a professional to help you out!