Philadelphia Tax Accountant on Organizing Your Finances Well

May 3, 2015

When we’re privileged enough to have conversations with clients unrelated to taxes, and more about their general financial world, we’re often asked about setting up a good system for keeping it all organized. Often, one of the major problems for many families is simply keeping track of everything! So here’s what we suggest...

• Find a good home for your documents.

The best spot to set up a home financial center is where you find the bills and receipts generally piling up—even if it’s in the corner of your kitchen. If you don’t want your financial records on your kitchen countertop, store them away in a corner filing cabinet nearby. Better to use a space you usually go to than to try to form a habit of going to the upstairs study you visit only once a week.

• Determine what you need to keep and what you can throw away.

Generally, you can get rid of grocery receipts, credit card slips for non-tax-deductible items, and ATM receipts you’ve already reconciled. Toss all your junk mail. You should hold on to receipts for anything that’s tax deductible, as well as medical expenses, past tax returns, and records of charitable contributions.

Also keep insurance policies, investment purchase records, mortgage and property bills, and warranties and instructions.

• Sort your papers.

Use four categories: bills, insurance policies and records, bank and brokerage statements, and other important documents. Then sort those papers into separate folders for each account, type of receipt (like transportation expenses or medical bills), insurance policies, etc. Toss the papers that don’t fit into any category.

• Spend five to 10 minutes a day maintaining your files.

Open your mail near the trash bin. Circle the due date for your bills and file them in the proper order. Then save whatever you decide to keep in its proper folder.

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