Managing Household Records

Chances are you have stacks of paper somewhere piling up in your home. Bundles of paper flood into the average home each day. The mailbox ejects letters, bills, and bank statements. School backpacks unload children's artwork, meeting notices and sports schedules. How do people decide where to store such records? And how do they know what to keep, what to throw away, and when?

Create Your Filing System
Efficient paper management allows you to find documents easily, and help you maintain and retrieve important papers in the future. Sort your documents into three piles: active file, dead storage, and items to discard or shred. The active file should include papers you deal with on a regular basis and to which you need to refer. Examples of such documents are any warranties, statements, health records, and insurance policies.

All active file papers over 3-years-old are considered dead storage. This may not apply to manuals, or policy information. According USA.gov cancelled checks, expired warranties, paystubs (after reconciling with W-2), and other records are no longer needed. The IRS has general guidelines of record keeping for 3-7 years depending on your specific period of limitations. Generally this means you must keep records that support items shown on your return until the period of limitations for that return runs out. Please visit IRS.gov for their table of Periods of Limitations.

Consider scanning and storing some documents electronically. Investing in an external hard drive for your computer and regularly backing up important documents will allow you to carry your hard drive at a moment's notice.

Safe Keeping
Once you've sorted and organized your paperwork, consider how you're going to keep those files safe. You can use an off-site safe deposit box or even invest in a fireproof/waterproof safe for your home. Documents such as birth and death certificates, citizenship papers, deeds and property titles, marriage licenses and divorce decrees, passports, social security cards, wills, and stock and bond certificates should be placed in safe keeping.

Emergency Kit
What documents should you grab in case of an emergency such as fires, floods, earthquakes? Your number one priority is to get yourself and your family to safety. In doing so, you can create a grab and go kit for unexpected emergencies. In an accordion file you can include copies of: birth and marriage certificates, social security cards, wills and trust documents, passports, and a list of prescriptions. Remember that these documents contain personal information and could be used against you if they fell into the wrong hands. Be sure that all of your personal files are stored in a secure location in your home.

Don't Go At It Alone
Good record keeping will help you get organized for tax time, as well as help you easily prepare for a meeting with your financial professional. Providing a clear scope of your specific situation can help your financial professional build a plan that is tailored to your individual needs.

Have You Read...
Household Property Inventory Workbook: A Must Have Record Keeping System by Theodocia McLean.

Interested in learning more?
Ryan LaVeille specializes in helping people maintain a healthy financial balance and discover smart money strategies. Call him to set an appointment to review your investment objectives and to discuss any questions you might have! 614-221-3233 ext. 8104

For Specific Tax Advice Consult a Qualified Tax Professional. Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. ("CFS"), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. The Credit Union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members.

Sources:
http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Money/Personal-Finance/Managing-Household-Records.shtml
IRS.gov

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