Get Your Finances Organized

Managing your financial records is an ongoing and very important process. Poor bookkeeping habits combined with disorganized receipts and other financial paperwork can spell disaster for any individual or business. Have you ever thought about who would need to know your financial information if something happens to you? Or what if you are faced with a natural disaster and need to quickly leave your home? It is imperative to be prepared for the unexpected by organizing your finances.

The bottom line is that it is not safe just to keep the information in your head or on random papers scattered around your office or desk area. Identify who would need to know this information if something happened to you and consolidate the information on a sheet of paper.

Creating a one-page cheat sheet with all important financial information ensures that everything is in one place. Include names, numbers and e-mails of family members, doctors, professional advisors (accountant, lawyer) and insurance contacts. Be sure to list all financial accounts and locations. Your cheat sheet should also include where to find your important personal documents such as bank account statements, insurance policies, marriage, birth and death certificates, an original copy of your will, employee benefits information and the forms naming your retirement account beneficiaries.

Where should you keep your cheat sheet? Make three copies. Keep one yourself (make sure your spouse knows where it is too) and give one to a close trustworthy contact such as a sibling, adult child or lawyer. Mail the third to someone you trust who lives in another location far enough away so that they are not able to experience the same natural disasters.

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