Trash or treasure? How to keep your financial records organized without losing your mind

If your New Year's resolution is to "get organized" then today's post can help you start 2012 off right...

Here's a great question:

"What paperwork do I have to keep and for how long?  I have soooo many bank statements, old paid bills, investment statements etc! Thanks- [Busy Mom/Doctor Who Shall Remain Nameless]"


Ugh... I know you hate dealing with paperwork, and that's why I've devised a simple scheme to help you decide what's trash and what's treasure.

But first, you'll need two things: a big box and a magic marker.

 The Simple Three-Step Process

  1. Label your box: On the side of your box, write the words "2012 Financial Records". Let your kids draw on the box just to add some fun and get them involved.
  2. Put stuff in your box: As you receive "financial stuff" throughout the year, stick it all in that box... willy nilly, disorganized, in the original envelope if you dare. Got bank statements? Stick 'em in the box. Investment report? Stuff 'em in the folder. Paid bills? Ditto.
  3. Repeat: At year's end, right after you finish singing "Auld Lang Syne" (what does that mean anyway?), put that box some place safe... and be done with it.

When 2013 begins, get a new box and repeat the three steps. If you have financial stuff from previous years, you can drop each year's worth of stuff into its own box.

 Is it really that simple?

Yes, it is. Here are the benefits:

  • Always have everything.
  • Never lose anything.
  • No need to sort/tag/taxidermy anything.

If you need something, It will take you less time and energy to dig through your box than it takes to neatly organize all that stuff. Chances are good that you won't look back into the box at all.

Still not convinced?

If you're a recovering perfectionist like me, then you might want to check out these articles that tell you precisely what's trash and what's treasure. Warning: these articles tell you to  save almost everything"¦

What do you think about this post? Trash? Or treasure? Let me know...