Fall into savings: Organizing your financial records can help you save

By Maria Perez

The last few days of summer give way to changing leaves, apples and crisp fall air. Changing seasons are a natural time for cleaning house – so why not take a look at your finances too? Clearing the financial clutter will help you keep better track of your money and information so it's ready whenever you need it. Plus, getting organized might even uncover some ways to save. Here are some tips to help you rake in some savings along with those leaves.

Take inventory
Just like any cleaning project, it's best to know what you're working with. Take stock of all financial records, personal records and valuables. Knowing exactly where your important documents are is also helpful in case of an emergency like a flood, fire or other home event.1 (See the list below for what types of documents you need.)

Keep, store, shred
Having a good filing system will ensure that you always know where your key documents are and can find them at a moment's notice. These can be divided into three categories: keep, store, shred. Keep documents and records you use regularly; store documents that are more than three years old that you still need, but not daily; and shred what you don't need any more.

Review and update
Now that you have a handle on what you have and where to find it – it's a great time to see if there's anywhere you can save money. Look at services like cable, interest rates on loans and credit cards, and review your insurance policies to see if you're getting the best deal. And be sure to review regularly. Now that your information is all in one place it will be easy to review your bills and update your budget.

How to organize your finances

Compile documents, bills, warranties and receipts into these categories: financial records, personal records and household belongings.

  • Financial records
    This includes all bank accounts, investments and loans, plus income tax information (pay stubs and W2s). Any insurance policies, wills or trusts, and regular bills like utilities should be included
  • Personal records
    All your identifying documents like birth certificate, Social Security card and passport, plus any marriage or divorce documents and titles, deeds or vehicle registration
  • List and insure household belongings
    Catalog your electronics, appliances, jewelry, furniture and clothing with any receipts and warranty information, then talk with your insurance agent about your insurance needs

This article is based on information available in January 2018. It is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide specific financial, investment, tax, legal, accounting, or other advice and should not be acted or relied upon without the advice of a professional advisor. A professional advisor will recommend action based on your personal circumstances and the most recent information available.

1Rutherford, Dan. Prepare Your Finances for Emergencies. http://www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/prepare-your-finances-for-emergencies. N.p. unknown, n.d. June 2013.