In spite of the fact that so much of our communication takes place digitally, there seems to be more paper in our lives than we’d like. In fact, the average adult receives 41 pounds of junk mail each year! If you feel like you’re drowning in paper, here are some tips for reducing paper clutter.
- Consolidate both credit card accounts and bank accounts. The more accounts you have, the more accounts you have to monitor.
- Cancel accounts you no longer use. Extra paperwork from unused accounts creates unnecessary clutter.
- Avoid the temptation of new credit cards and the annoyance of insurance offers by using OptOutPrescreen.com or by calling 1-888-567-8688 (1-888-5-OPT-OUT). You can opt out each member of your family for 5 years or forever!
- Reduce unwanted catalogs by contacting the mail-order companies directly or use a free service at (http://www.catalogchoice.org/), which will send opt-out requests on your behalf.
- Stop mailings for deceased family members by going online to the DMA’s Deceased Do Not Contact List (http://www.ims-dm.com/cgi/ddnc.php).
- Use automatic transactions whenever possible. Pay bills online, have your employer use direct deposit for your paychecks.
- Shred ATM receipts, bank deposit slips, and credit card receipts each month (once you’ve checked them against your statement).
- Take bills and statements out of the envelopes. Discard the outer envelope, and put bills in an in-box.
- Have a set routine regarding bill paying. For example, pay bills on the same day every week. When bills are left unpaid, they get sent again and again until they’re paid, causing even more clutter.
- Touch each piece of paper once. Take care of what you can immediately. Put the date in your calendar, send the check, RSVP, and be done!
This blog entry was written in collaboration with Alfred Katzin, CPA and is intended for informational and organizational purposes only. It is not intended to be used as tax advice.
Good organization may not cut your taxes, but it will cut down on your stress at tax time and may even result in financial rewards. To ensure that your taxes are ready to be filed on April 15th, consider these tips for tax time organizing. Continue reading “Tax Time Organizing” »
April 15th is just hours away, and many people are scrambling to compile their tax data and meet the IRS deadline. Since many of these people are also vowing to better organize their finances next year to avoid the last minute stress, here are some tips for a more organized financial life.
Use on-line banking and bill paying for utilities, mortgages, car payments, etc. Not only will this save you time and cut down on the amount of paper clutter you receive, but the institution generally maintains records for a sufficient number of years and copies of transactions are readily available.
Create a file folder where all tax related documents are collected during the year. This may include1099 forms, security brokers’ year-end statements, annual mortgage interest, real estate tax statements, letters supporting charitable contributions, etc. When it’s time to file your tax return, simply provide this folder to your tax preparer.
Look at last year’s documentation. Many tax preparers send an annual organizer to their clients showing prior year information. This is a wonderful reminder of the documentation that was provided in the prior year, what would be expected in the current year, and any changes that may have occurred.
Educate yourself about your financial responsibility. Speak to a tax preparer and/or financial planner at frequent intervals and question them in order to again a better understanding of your financial matters.
Know your credit score. See what you can do to improve it and ensure that it’s correct.
Save bank statements, credit card statements, and other statements as pdf’s on your computer instead of accumulating paper.
Ensure estate planning is up-to-date. Know where estate planning documents are stored and ensure that the correct people know where to find them. Have a list of all retirement accounts and life insurance policies including beneficiaries.
Keep important documents in a fireproof safe box. This includes: insurance policies, wills/trusts, birth/marriage certificates, passports and other hard to replace documents in a fireproof safe box. Also, keep a back-up copy of the financial records on your computer here.
Maintain all important financial documents for at least seven years.