Organize Your Finances In Time for ’09
What’s your system for organizing your bills and receipts? Or maybe the better question is—Do you have a system at all?
We tend to save cleaning out our closets and drawers for Spring Time, but now is the best time to get ready for the ‘financial’ New Year. Don’t you want to have a clean slate ready to help you stick to your resolutions? If you have some down time over the holidays, take advantage of it and get your filing cabinet ready for ’09 and the 2008 Tax Season. –And if you don’t have one, it’s time to invest in a small filing cabinet! Target and Staples have inexpensive, portable plastic versions.
First, gather up all your paid and unpaid bills, unopened mail, and all the receipts jammed in your wallet and at the bottom of your purse. Clear off the table, pour some hot chocolate, and start making piles.
- Put each paid bill into categories (rent, electric, car payment, credit card bill, etc..). Put all unpaid bills into ONE pile.
- Make sure you’ve opened all of your mail to ensure that you haven’t missed any bills, credits, checks, or notices.
- Put all cancelled checks in sequence and into a pile.
- Organize your receipts into categories (credit card, taxis, clothes, etc…)
- Throw out the clutter that you don’t need!
Now that you know where everything is…. It’s time to file away! Unless you need to hold on to a warrantee, proof of purchase, proof of payment or are behind in filing your taxes, it’s probably okay to throw away any bills older than 2008. We like to keep the last year on file for reference, but consult with your accountant or financial advisor before shredding any files.
Simplify your life: KEEP ALL BILLS, STATEMENTS, & RECEIPTS IN ONE PLACE (a filing cabinet, a binder, or an accordion file).
- Make an UNPAID BILL folder. This is where any bill that has NOT BEEN PAID should live until a check has been written or you’ve paid the bill online.
- Once a bill is paid, date each bill and write down the check number or form of payment on the first page of the bill. Staple all pages of the bill together.
- Each vendor, company, or person you make payments to should have their own 2009 folder. File the paid bills into their appropriate folder (Rent, Visa, Con Edison, Mortgage, etc.)
- If you use a computer software program like Quicken, Microsoft Money, or Mint.com to organize and pay your bills, make sure that all the information in the program is up-to-date and reconciled with your paper files.
- Have a separate folder for your cancelled checks for the year.
- Consult with an accountant about which receipts you are allowed to apply as a deduction to your taxes. Make sure your receipts are organized by year and separated by category.
A little bit of cleaning house and organizing your filing system will get you ready for 2009, tax season, and make it much MUCH easier to balance your checkbook and automated payments.
Look for more tips in January to help get your financial resolutions on track in the New Year!