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How do you organize your financial records?
Old 05-11-2016, 06:08 PM   #1
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How do you organize your financial records?

I am in need of "how to deal with all the paperwork" advice. What system do you use to:
1. Keep track of multiple financial accounts
2. Keep track of statements for these accounts
3. Keep track of tax returns
4. Keep track of expenses for real property (primary residence / rental properties)

I'm in the process of scanning / purging boxes of our financial records.

I'm saving each scan by date as its own PDF, in a file on my computer dedicated to that specific account (ie: Urchina Roth, DH Roth, Urchina Trad IRA, DH Trad IRA, Urchina 403(b), etc.)

I'm doing the same for tax returns (filed in a single file by year).

All records about a specific property go into a master file for that property (for example: rental file has sub-files for mortgage statements, tax info, and copies of the trust deed).


Theoretically, once I've scanned it all I should be able to shred the hard copies, back the file up onto a thumb drive to stick in our safety deposit box, and go on my merry way. However, I'm feeling jittery about shredding the hard copies of our investment purchases (both taxable and tax-deferred), as well as the tax returns and the hard copies of our mortgage paperwork/rental property receipts.

I could probably just stick them in a binder, most recent on top, and shelve it.

Any advice? I guess I just want to make sure my bases are covered before I start up the shredder. I'd also like to file for retrieval, not storage, so that it's easy to find this information when and if I need it in the future.

Thanks for your ideas and for sharing your systems!
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Old 05-11-2016, 06:13 PM   #2
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I put the monthly statements in a binder and replace and shred as the new ones come in. The taxes are stored in a file cabinet and shredded as 7 years go by.
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Old 05-11-2016, 06:26 PM   #3
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All current accounts are managed in Moneydance.

Everything paper is scanned into a pdf and the originals (well, practically everything) are shredded.

The digital records are backed up to two separate external drives daily, and two others weekly. One of the weekly ones is stored in a good fire-resistant safe, the other offsite.

Sounds like a lot of work, but all the backups are made automatically by scripts. This has been my mode of operation for many years and works for me.

Some years ago I got audited by the IRS. It was just one of those letter audits where they thought they found a discrepancy in my return from a couple of years previously. So the whole thing had to be handled by snail-mailing documents back and forth. I just printed out my pdf copies of those old returns and everything worked out nicely.

There are a few kinds of documents that you want to keep the originals of. Car titles would be a good example. But those fit neatly into a couple of file folders and can be kept in the safe.

A good crosscut shredder is your friend.
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Old 05-11-2016, 06:39 PM   #4
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I scan everything into PDFs and burn the paper copies. Taxes, investments, receipts, user manuals, etc. I have a bin for incoming documents that need to be scanned, and I scan whatever is in the bin once a month. I store it on an external drive that is backed up via Apple time machine, but I'm going to put another ba clip in our bank lock box.


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Old 05-11-2016, 06:52 PM   #5
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OK. This all sounds similar to what I had in mind.

I think one of my biggest challenges right now is that we have a lot of investment / banking accounts, even after consolidation. It just generates an unholy amount of paper every month and then every quarter.

How much time per month does everyone spend with the scanning / file management? We're in the accumulation phase, so I assume the time budget will go up once we're actually drawing down these accounts and have to pay attention to the order of acquisition, etc.
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Old 05-11-2016, 07:07 PM   #6
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Organize? What's that?
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Old 05-11-2016, 07:10 PM   #7
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Since I don't scan and use the binder "system" about 5 minutes / mo.
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Old 05-11-2016, 08:32 PM   #8
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I'm all electronic as well. I have my entire financial life in Quicken... full balance sheet. Each quarter I have a folder with statements for each bank, investment and credit card account... 12 pdfs. No scanning... all downloaded from vendor sites.

Folder with tax return but I do print key pages double sided 1040, sch A, B, etc and have them in a paper file with my contribution receipts (the letters the charities send to you).

I also get pdfs for all owner manuals... no need to scan... they are available via the net... and then I recycle the paper copies.

For investments I rely on Vanguard to keep basis info... i guess that I could periodically do a report of all open lots and keep that but it is overkill IMO and not needed for my tax deferred accounts.
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Old 05-11-2016, 08:36 PM   #9
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I also do not scan. What I do, that seems to save time is.

1. I do not file monthly statements. (use to).

2. Have multiple file shelves above my desk. Each shelf is labeled.
ie. Bank A, Credit Union B, Credit Card A, Vanguard. etc.

3. As monthly statements come in, I just read, and toss in shelf.
No binder, or folder, to file in.

3. When the pile gets large, just remove older statements from bottom
and toss.

4. With, Vanguard, end of year, keep Yearly consolidated statement and
toss out the monthlies.

5. Keep all tax statements, and real estate paper forever.
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Old 05-11-2016, 08:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urchina View Post
OK. This all sounds similar to what I had in mind.

I think one of my biggest challenges right now is that we have a lot of investment / banking accounts, even after consolidation. It just generates an unholy amount of paper every month and then every quarter.

...
We are at the end of the accumulation stage and also have more accounts than we will have once I hit 59.5....

Can't you opt out of paper statements? Like Pb4uski, I have everything on quicken. I download transactions/quotes for all accounts nightly. Except for DW's investment accounts, which she likes to review, we get nothing hard copy. I do get an email notice each month for each account saying statement is available online, and sometimes I look at them to confirm balances. (If balances are off, I review on screen and only print if I have difficulty reconciling.)

Saves wear and tear on our shredder.

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E.T.A. after reading Wolf's comment: Yearly and other tax-related papers/statements go into the year's tax folder, which are kept for seven-10 years and also scanned.
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Old 05-11-2016, 08:52 PM   #11
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Print out FIDO and VG statements monthly and keep in a three ring binder. Keep monthly bank statements in a different three ring binder. Tax records back seven years in filing cabinet. Property records in fire proof safe box.
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Old 05-11-2016, 09:33 PM   #12
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Organize? What's that?
+1

Basically I don't do much.
(1) I stuff papers that arrive in the mail into my file cabinet.
(a)taxes: I have a hanging file folder for each year ("2015 TAXES")and stuff anything I might need (or that I used) for taxes in there.

(b) I stuff TSP stuff that comes in the mail, in my TSP hanging file folder.

(c) As for house expenses, I stuff receipts for work on my house into a hanging file folder aptly named "house". Utilities each have their own file folder but all this is online so when I have the inclination I am going to shred all of the utilities stuff.
(2) I copy Vanguard PDFs onto my laptop hard drive when I read them. I only have 4-5 mutual funds at Vanguard, and Vanguard has everything online.

I don't put a whole lot of effort into any of this.

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Old 05-11-2016, 09:40 PM   #13
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I use Quicken and Turbotax. Still mostly paper statements, but autopay for virtually all payments.

I have a monthly folder for all receipts. Many of mine are tax deductible for my business.

I keep 7+ years of folders. I keep all my tax forms electronically, but have hard copies of anything I get in a hard copy format (W2, 1099s, donation receipts, etc.)

Everything stored local, backed up both local and in the Google Drive cloud.
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Old 05-11-2016, 10:00 PM   #14
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Yesterday I shredded everything before 2013. Well -- that 'everthing' was just taxes as I haven't gotten paper statements since I left county in 2004. It's all online if I need it and the IRS can get me transcripts if needed. The only thing I've kept on a flash drive is tax returns 1998 - 2014 & spreadsheets from a business I closed in 2014.

I'm done
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Old 05-11-2016, 10:17 PM   #15
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I have just done a transaction, and the tax folks wanted copies of ALL my tax statements on that item going back to when I first included this item in my tax returns.

So much for the 7 year rule, I'm glad I didn't throw any tax stuff out.
After all its not hard to keep a box of folders tucked in a corner.
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Old 05-11-2016, 10:22 PM   #16
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They went back the ENTIRE 7 tax years!! I thought the new ruling was only for returns filed in the last 6 years! OMG
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Old 05-11-2016, 10:49 PM   #17
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I am in the process of turning off all paper statements and using the bank e-statements instead. I was planning to download the to a file but several of these have access to many years worth of statements so now I'm thinking do I really need my own record? Old stuff (tax returns) are not worth my time to scan so it sits in a well organized file cabinet and goes to the shredder at my credit union after ten years. I do keep old pay stubs and some other odd things forever. It's actually easier for me to organize the paper than to discard it.


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Old 05-12-2016, 05:14 AM   #18
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One binder holds important papers. Can be used to quickly find basic account info.
Another binder or tow on shelf holds last years tax return info.
Next shelf above holds 2 binders for in-laws data.
Since a binder is only so thick, older statements get tossed to make room.
Tossing most monthly statements when the next arrives.

Then there is the digital side. Have been faithfully downloading checking acct transactions to Excel for several years. This has helped tremendously when preparing taxes. Monthly account totals are saved--nothing very complex about that.

PDF statements and tax info are saved on encrypted partition.

BTW, I save old tax stuff for ten years, then shred it.
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Old 05-12-2016, 06:31 AM   #19
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All my statements are now digital downloads. The only thing I print are yearly taxes which I NEVER throw out. I have all the old statements in file boxes, too lazy to scan them.

Digital records are backed up on two different drives. Encrypted file system and encrypted backups are used.
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Old 05-12-2016, 07:07 AM   #20
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For taxes I use Turbotax and can download almost everything. The main thing that needs to go in manually is charitable. I don't have any rentals though.
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