Get Organized - The First Step to Money Management

In this section you'll find the quickest, easiest ways to get organized. If you naturally tend to be organized in other areas of your life, this will be very simple for you.

If not, I'll walk you through step-by-step until you're there. Here's the good news. Once you set up your system for organizing your personal finances, maintaining it is a breeze.

If you want your new found organization to spill over into your entire household, check out these handy tips for a more organized home.

The first thing you need to do to get organized is decide how you will file your financial paperwork.

Get Organized

If you have the room and budget for a small file cabinet, this is ideal.

If not, banker boxes are a good alternative. These are heavy duty cardboard boxes with tops. They come in letter or legal size and are available in any office supply store.

Another good option are the boxes that cases of copy paper are shipped in. Most offices order copy paper in bulk and they throw these boxes away. It would be a good idea to check with offices in your area to see if they have these. If you can find them, you can't beat the price!

Next, you'll want to pick up a pack of folders. Letter size should be fine for most of your paperwork. You can get these at office supply stores or even Walmart.

Once you have somewhere to put your important papers, you'll need to gather them together in one place. When you get organized for the first time, your kitchen table may not be big enough. Take over your living room floor for this project if you need to. Then, gather the following items:

  • Bank Statements
  • Credit Card Statements
  • Paycheck Stubs
  • Tax Returns
  • Child Support or Alimony Payment Information
  • Insurance Information
  • Credit Reports
  • Retirement and Investment Statements
  • Mortgage Statements
  • Car Payment Statements
  • Medical Bills
  • And All Other Recurring Bills or Income You May Have

After you've gathered what looks like everything but your birth certificate, you'll need to sort it. There are two ways to do this. The first way is to label folders by month and year. The idea being to put everything that happens in a particular month into that month's folder. This way works best if you have very few bills and other transactions coming and going each month.

The second and most effective option is to have a folder labeled for each company or type of service you have. An example would be a folder labeled "Utilities". All of your paid utility bills would go into that folder with the most current on top. Another example would be a folder labeled "Bank Deposits". All your bank deposit tickets would go there.

Another good idea is to have a "Bills to be Paid" folder. Keep all pending bills there and check it weekly. This way your kitchen counter stays clutter-free. You'll need more folders to do it this way but when you need to find something it'll be quick and painless. The most important thing is to get organized and do it in a way that makes sense for you.

Either way you choose to organize these records, you'll need to hang on to them for a while. It's important to know which financial records to keep and how long to keep them. When you do dispose of your old financial records always shred or destroy them. This will prevent anyone from gaining valuable information about you that could be used to open accounts in your name or make unauthorized purchases. If you do become a victim of identity theft, learn what steps you should take.

Now that you have a filing system and everything is organized, you should have no problem keeping it that way. When bills or statements come in, simply file them away in their appropriate folder.

Happy to Get Organized

As you can see, getting organized is more time consuming than difficult. But, once you get organized the system runs like a well-oiled machine. Having everything in one place will save you so much time in the future. Plus it will make creating and maintaining a budget a million times easier.

Speaking of budgets, do you have one? If not, head over to the "Create a Budget" section to find out how to create a budget that works for you.

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