New Year, New Resolutions, Get Financially Organized!
Don’t let time slip away from you this year. You know you want to stand tall on top of your financial life, IN CONTROL…..but somehow all this paperwork, emails, statements, and data fill your inbox and you just don’t know what to do with it. Instead of organizing, you let it sit until it is out of control; no fun to look at and no motivation to get started. Chances are, you’re still sitting on a lot of cash wondering what to do with it since the merger and the vested restricted stock turned to cash.
It is VERY doable to be financially organized and in charge. Start with the upcoming tax season. There are a lot of online tools that can make this process a dream, but no matter how you look at it, you need to start somewhere. Understand the stress you feel looking down a black hole of online emails or piles of paperwork, is part of the process. Accept it and know as you work through it, your understanding of your things, will slowly increase and your stress level will decrease.
Your tax statements are a good place to start taking inventory of what you have. While you are gathering all your tax information for the April 15th deadline, multi-task taxes and get financially organized at the same time.
When you are financially organized, you will know everything you own and owe. With that knowledge, you’ll be able to answer any financial questions you have, understanding what the overall impact is to your financial self.
Get a Bin or Cool Box and Throw it in (or make an Electronic Version – make 1 big File and stick every attachment in it).
Be consistent regardless – if it’s all paper, print the electronic forms and if it’s all electronic scan in the paper documents you get in the regular mail. Every year my accountant laughs at me when I bring her the tax bin. Anything that has to do with taxes is thrown in the bin throughout the year. From January to March, you have even more to throw in the bin as you start receiving year end tax documents from banks, investment accounts, etc. (My accountant will be impressed I got a cuter bin this year making it (sigh), just a little bit more fun!)
Benefits Statement, Trust Documents, Legal Doc’s, Insurance-think health, life, and disability. Retirement/Pension Statements, Company Stock Benefits – In the bin too!
Most benefit statements are wrapped into one online portal and print out a yearly statement after open enrollment season is done. You should have just received one. Go ahead, throw in the tax box too. All your year-end statements should be sent out to you in January.
Get a Password Organizer
I’ve realized part of what I dreaded about my online accounts, was that each time I logged in, I’d have to figure out what my password is. It created a password anxiety for me – thinking about all the time wasted resetting passwords. Create, locate and store in secure place your passwords and give up password anxiety. Yes, our lives ARE more complicated. It takes more time to constantly reset passwords than it does to have a secure password organizer.
A physical notebook works great or you might consider a digital password organizer like Last Pass.
You’re not finished yet, but that’s all you have to do now. It should take 2-3 months to receive all of your tax documents.