What is financial clutter?
For the purposes of this blog post, financial clutter consists of receipts, copies of bills, bank statements and anything of that nature that take up more space in your house than they should. Many of us hang onto these things for various reasons. Sometimes, we feel like we should, especially when the financial records are something that we use for our income taxes. Sometimes, we hang on to receipts just in case we want to return an item to the store.
Sometimes we're afraid to get rid of our financial clutter because we don't know if we'll have to refer back to it someday. Or, we just don't know when the appropriate time to get rid of the papers is. My husband and I have several shoe boxes filled with our financial clutter. And, we have a file cabinet filled with more. I know I need to pare down and get rid of things, but I've been unsure of how long I need to hold onto old bank statements, pay stubs and other things.
I found this financial clutter guide from Suze Orman to help me decide what to keep and what to toss. Now that I know what to get rid of, the question becomes how do I get rid of it and keep it from becoming a burden again. Here's what I'm doing:
1. Shredding old documents - It's important to shred any document with sensitive information. Old bank statements, insurance papers and anything with account numbers, social security numbers or insurance numbers should be shredded.
2. Signing up for on-line bank statements - On-line banking is a new thing for me. I've been hesitant to jump on board, but my bank started charging $2.00 for each mailed statement, so I'm going to get my statements electronically from now on. I was annoyed at first, but I really think it will cut down on a lot of financial clutter. I don't have to print every bank statement every month (like the boys' savings accounts, which don't see that much action), but can still print the checking account statement for my reference.
3. Putting important papers in a locked, fire-proof box - I blogged about this the other day, but I think it's essential. I'm going to buy one soon! Really!
Where is your financial clutter? Is it tucked away in shoe boxes? Or is it taking over your kitchen counter in the form of old receipts that could be tossed? Take a few minutes to put a dent in that clutter today!