Warm and sunny days, the start of baseball (Go Tigers!), and pollen are here. It’s spring time for most of the country as well as the starting point of many projects. For me, my project is to finally organize and get rid of a majority of items in a local storage closet. As for my wife, she is in the beginning stages of organizing her mementos to re-start her hobby of scrapbooking. As you see, organization is the foundation of each of these projects. While the definition of organization is different for everyone, I think the satisfaction of it is the same.
So, what about your financial and personal records? With tax season over, this is the opportune time to review and take care of organizing these types of items. Below are a just a few ideas to consider when you are focusing on this area of your spring cleaning.
What Documents Should I Keep?
Here at Longview, we are often asked by our clients which documents are necessary to retain as well as which documents are worth shredding. While all documents and situations are different for everyone, here is a short list to consider:
As mentioned, these are general guidelines. If in doubt, gauge your personal level of comfort or feel free to contact us and we can provide you with a quick answer.
Consider Online Storage
This year, it was a personal goal of mine to go paperless with everything I receive (bills, statements, etc.). Other than the occasional restaurant coupons, my mailbox is empty and I personally love it. That said, going paperless is not for everyone. But, if you are thinking about it, be sure that all of your monthly statements and important documents are saved to your computer and backed up with a program such as Carbonite or directly saved to other online storage platforms such as DropBox. Also, for extra security, be sure that access to your sensitive documents is encrypted with a password that is different from any other password you currently have.
If you are indeed considering any of these suggestions, I encourage you to research all providers thoroughly and know that the price and services vary between companies.
Change Your Passwords
While some of my online access requires me to change my password every 60 days, the others are begrudgingly changed every April. Yes, it can be very frustrating – especially when I forget the certain order and characteristics of my new password and inevitably get the security question wrong due to me forgetting what I entered for my first car’s make and model (was it an ‘89 Trooper or a 1989 Isuzu Trooper?). That said, there is a simple solution that is one-step beyond changing the password – create an encrypted Excel spreadsheet, backed up via online storage, with all your passwords and security questions. Alternatively, you may consider using online password manager software (LastPass is my personal favorite). Finally, always remember that the word “password” is never a good password.
I hope that you find these few considerations helpful if you do indeed decide to take on a spring cleaning and organization of your personal and financial records. As with any project, I am sure the satisfaction of completion will be well worth it in the end!
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