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Spring cleaning - for your financial records

Posted by Jill Boynton  March 10, 2010 10:44 AM

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Spring is just 10 days away. It's a good time to clear out the garage and the basement — and your financial files too. One important aspect of being in control of your finances is being organized. When your documents are organized it means you can find what you need quickly, are more likely to pay your bills on time and are less likely to be caught by surprise by an expense. You know what you have and where it is.

Here are some tips for organizing and better managing your paperwork:

1. If you don't have a shredder, buy a good cross-cut model. Never toss documents into the trash barrel. Shred everything with personal information.

2. Organize all your statements: create a folder for each investment account, credit card, utility bills or other statements that you want to keep.

3. Keep these items:
- Monthly bills, if you need them as a receipt for tax purposes.
- Credit card statements (these make a good record of purchase date and cost)
- Year-end pay stub
- Investment records: keep confirmations and statements for taxable accounts. You don't need to keep confirmations for tax-deferred accounts but should keep the statements.
- Tax returns: you are only required to keep tax records for 3 years but my recommendation is to keep them forever.
- Most recent Social Security Benefit Statement

4. Toss the following:
- Monthly bills, if not needed for taxes
- Pay stubs other than year-end
- Loan agreements for old loans
- Old manuals and warranties

5. Reduce your paper files: Sign up for e-delivery of investment statements, but be sure to back up your computer regularly.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Local finance professionals share insights and advice on issues such as budgeting, managing debt, and retirement planning.

About the contributors

D. Abraham Ringer is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER practitioner and a Financial Adviser with Morgan Stanley Global Wealth Management in Boston. He is registered in MA, NH, NY and several other states to which his articles are directed. For more information please visit
Financial Planning Association™ of Massachusetts has 900 members who specialize in the financial planning process. Many of its members engage in philanthropic pro bono work in their communities, recommend legislation, elevate public awareness, promote financial literacy, and advocate for sound economic and tax policies.
Odysseas Papadimitriou is the founder of, a credit card and gift card marketplace, and, a personal finance site. He has more than 13 years of experience in the personal finance industry, and previously served as senior director at Capital One.

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