Hope you enjoy – Scott
Getting your financial paperwork sorted and filed is a challenge at the best of times. But when you’re overwhelmed by the idea of it? It seems impossible. These tips should help you out.
Firstly, Pace yourself.
If you’re like most of my clients, you take a look at your filing pile and you want to run for the hills. The biggest mistake most people make is they try to complete it all in one hit. You don’t need to. Do five minutes a day, until its done.
In your 5 minutes, spend 3 minutes deciding if it’s being kept, recycled or shredded. Sort them into categories (examples to come). Then with your other 2 minutes, file them away. You might need to create files for them. Be sure to name them with something you’ll remember. When you return for your next session, repeat the exercise.
Common categories for your financial folders
There are many folders you might have set up. I will list the essentials. Some of you may feel uncomfortable parting with bank statements, for instance, so you might want to set up extra folders.
Have a folder for your tax files each year. It might be an arch lever folder with tabs if you need it or a hanging file. All tax related receipts and PAYG summaries will go here. If you expect to have lots, and you expect you will need to access them again, you may want sub categories. Examples for personal tax are donations, medical, shares/investments, computer depreciations, car.
If you have a business you should consider how you’re likely to want to access them again. For instance, you’ll probably want a particular receipt so save them under categories rather than the date they were received. You wont remember when you paid the electricity bill but you will know it’s a utility and saved under that tab. Some examples are car expenses, utilities, stationery, computer expenses, subcontractors, insurance, networking, travels and so on.
Always have your folder set up for this financial year, to keep you ahead of the game!
These days most of us have superannuation fund(s) so this is a must-have folder. If you have multiple funds have a sub folder for each. I personally keep only the most recent statement. When the new one arrives, I shred the oldest. This means I don’t have to do a yearly cull. Decide what’s comfortable for you.
If you have several funds, consider combining them and seeing your financial planner for the best outcome. Don’t pay fees where you don’t have too!
If you have shares and investments (good on you!) then you’ll need a hanging file for this. For each type (if you have multiple) create a sub folder for each. For example, the over-arching folder name would be ‘Shares’, and the sub folders would be ‘Microsoft’, ‘Cadbury’, and ‘Westpac’. With investments, it would be much the same, ‘Property Investments’ and then the sub folders for each property for instance.
If you have different insurances, create a hanging file for them. You would have sub folders for the different types. For instance, ‘Insurances’ would be the over-arching heading, followed by ‘Home insurance’, ‘car insurance’, ‘life insurance’ and so on.
Other financial papers
Do you have other categories? Think about how you intend to access them again (or why you would), to help you decide on the file name. Don’t forget to ask yourself the question ‘Do I really need to file this?’ As sometimes you don’t need them as they are accessible elsewhere, like online.
Ask for help
If you find that you just can’t figure it out (or don’t want to because it bores you to tears), ask for help. Professional Organisers like me love sorting and organising your papers and can whip your papers into shape. You’ll then be prepared to see your financial planner or accountant!
So go on, get stuck into a five minute session of organising your financial papers, or call a professional to help you out!
Virginia Wells is the professional organiser behind WellSorted. She helps the busy, stressed and overwhelmed get their homes decluttered, organised and arranged in a way that works for them. She brings calm, order and flow back into their home and life. Ultimately though, she gives you permission to let go of your ‘stuff’ so you can live your life more harmoniously and freely. She has a degree in Psychology and is accredited to Expert Level Membership of the Australasian Association of Professional Organisers. Is there a place in your home or office you’d like to sort out? Contact me on
M: 0422 490 131
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