Spring Cleaning Your Finances
Springtime means opening the windows, sweeping out the
dust from over the winter and starting anew. It is also the
opportune time to clean out your wallet or purse, that junk
drawer full of receipts and those overflowing file cabinets.
But where to begin?
Go through your wallet and purse and fish out any receipts
you may have accumulated. Review which ones you need to
keep and why you kept them. Do you have receipts related
to rebates? If so, sit down today, fill out the form, and either
load on-line or put in the mail. Do you have credit card offers
lying around that need to be dealt with? Or, how about
passwords scribbled on post-it notes? Do you have other
receipts tacked on a bulletin board or shoved in a kitchen
junk drawer? How about all the paperwork from filing your
taxes? Rake them all together!
Once you’ve raked together all your sensitive papers, it’s
time to decide what to do with them. For tax documents,
in most cases, you should plan on keeping tax returns
and any supporting documents (e.g., W-2s, mileage logs
if you itemize, etc.) for at least three years after the date
you filed or the due date of your tax return, whichever is
later. Always consult your tax preparer, if you have questions.
Receipts not related to refunds or extended warranties can
be set aside for shredding. Do you have a pile of credit card
offers taking up space in a drawer? Get them ready for
So, once you decide what you need to shred, how do you
handle it all? Tearing the documents in half and throwing
them out is not the way to go! A home shredder is a good
idea. It is recommended that you buy a shredder that
crosscuts. In other words, you want all that paper ending up
looking like confetti, and not in strips. Home machines are
not typically heavy-duty, so be careful as to how much you
shred at a time. If your shredder is not equipped to take on
staples or other metal, be careful to remove them from the
paper to avoid damaging the blades. If you have a lot of
sensitive documents, many communities now offer Shred
events. They enable you to drop off your documents for
shredding for free, or for a small fee, and even watch it
being shredded while you wait.
Highly sensitive documents (social security cards, passports,
birth certificates, wills) should be locked up in a fireproof file
cabinet or lockbox. Gather all other pertinent papers, like
insurance forms, tax documents, mortgages, and put them in
a secure location. Inform trusted family members where the
documents are located and/or location of a key for the secure
file cabinet or lockbox.
A little planning this spring, alongside your traditional
cleaning, can set you up for a great financial year!
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