Jump Start January 2017: Week 4: Day 6
Here we go with a brand new declutter that will make you feel more in charge of your finances. Let’s quickly file our financial paperwork.
Whether your bank account or credit card statements are printed paper ones or they’re given to you online, many of us are guilty of being disorganised with them. Today’s activity is to collect and file the paperwork for your main financial dealings (i.e. the paper trail, physical or digital, of your spending) for the last 12 months.
For example, that will probably include:
• Your bank or building society current account
• Your credit card account or accounts
There’s no need to include your utility bills or things like your insurance documents in today’s tidying up, because those usually come out of your current account anyway. That’s a different mess we can sort out another time, so let’s keep it manageable and simple today.
Let’s file that financial paperwork!
Work fast. Set a timer if you like, either by using an alert on your phone or using a kitchen timer or egg timer. This is one of the best ways to prevent procrastination and make sure tasks get finished in their allotted time.
For paper statements, get a file: a ring binder is especially good for keeping paperwork in the correct order, and allows fast and fuss-free reference to your information.
Now look around your home for places where paper bills might be piling up. That could be your work bag, in the hall, on a dining table, in a letter rack, in a kitchen drawer, or in a home office in-tray. In many homes they tend to collect in more than one spot, so don’t forget to hunt around. Open envelopes if necessary and quickly get the papers into date order in your folder or filing cabinet.
If any of your monthly statements are missing, contact the relevant bank, building society or credit card company, and ask for a replacement.
For virtual (i.e. digital or online) records, download them from your online banking or request for the data to be emailed to you by your bank or building society. Then create a computer file or folder to keep it somewhere safe and organised where you can find and check it easily.
There’s no need to study the contents of any statements today, just get them filed and tidy. Don’t start going through them and getting sidetracked. That keeps the task undaunting and easy to complete, and rest assured that we will be taking care of these issues in due course – but not until tomorrow.
Once you’ve completed your filing, you might need to recycle some envelopes, or shred any additional documents addressed to you that you don’t need. This sometimes includes promotional materials from the financial companies that you don’t want – make sure they can’t fall into the hands of fraudsters or identity thieves.
Filing your current account and credit card statements is far quicker and easier than you might think. Once it’s done it will help you track your earnings and outgoings with less fuss, and make planning and monitoring much simpler.
If your paperwork or electronic records are in a mess, they might be stressing you out subconsciously, nagging away at the back of your mind. Tidying up in this way can make you feel calmer, and more organised and in control.
Alternative activity: If you’re already up to date on filing paper or virtual statements for your current account and any credit cards, well done! Put five minutes aside today to do some shredding and/or recycling of any junk mail or other unwanted correspondence.
This article is an excerpt from Jump Start Your Money Confidence: Personal finance confidence in 30 days for the overwhelmed and anyone who thinks they’re useless with money by Penny Golightly.