Chapter One: Money, Communication, & Happiness

7 Simple Steps to Getting Financially Organized (con't)

Step 4. Create a Financial Center at home (or as the Feng Shui advocates like to call it, a Wealth Center).

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The Financial Center will be where you keep your financial records and conduct your financial affairs. If you use a computer, provide adequate space for it. Invest in a filing system (metal filing cabinet, baskets, or bins) and plen‐ ty of file folders. Some people prefer hanging files to non‐hanging; let your own preference prevail. If you do not have the money to buy such equipment for your Fi‐ nancial Center, paper storage boxes will work just fine. Determine whether you want to make your filing sys‐ tem lockable or not.

Step 5. Establish a filing system.

In Step 2 above, you jotted down where you keep your vital documents. Now it is time to file them system‐ atically. Develop a filing system. You may wish to use the file cat‐ egories in the Vital Documents Inventory or create your own. Some people merely file everything alphabetically, and it seems to work for them. Label each file folder so you can easily find what you are looking for. Only file your documents in a password protected computer file, a locked safe or a locked metal file cabinet (best if bolted to the floor).

Step 6. Decide how to organize your electronic files. 

With many financial institutions now providing only electronic copies of statements, decide how you will keep these records. One option is to organize “file folders” on your computer that match the categories in your filing cabinet. You must also decide if you plan to print paper copies of your electronic statements as back‐up. You may wish to scan some of your paper documents to eliminate bulk. Consider what would happen if your computer crashes. You need a system for backing up your electronic files, or you may elect to store them on an external hard drive or flash drive. If you do not back up your computer files regularly, you may decide it is better to print off vital records. Make sure your firewalls are always up to date, and when you replace your computer, make sure that the hard disk on the old computer is completely disabled and destroyed.

Step 7. Shred paper copies with personal information.

It is strongly recommended that you purchase a paper shredder if you do not already have one, shredding all old hardcopy documents that you no longer need that include your identity and/or account numbers rather than just placing these documents in the trash. Even incoming credit card solicitation offers should be carefully discarded by shredding. Ask your financial institution if they provide free shredding services.