How I love this silly season of resolutions. Three days from now we can all step out of our old, bad selves and into new and better models. And all you have to do is make a promise or two.
Money resolutions are popular at this time of year, if for no other reason than credit and debit card excess will soon lead to a financial hangover that can linger well into the spring months.
I can think of many worthwhile financial resolutions but I decided to focus on a single one for 2010. Get organized. I picked it because organization is well within everyone’s grasp. What’s the point of making a resolution you can’t keep?
Time and time again I see the roots of financial woes in disorganization. Sometimes it is a disorganized mind failing to ask the right questions. Did I buy it already? Do I need it? Does what I have really need to be replaced?
Other times it is physical disorganization such as not keeping receipts for warranty protection, returns and income tax purposes.
Figuring out where to start can be overwhelming so take the first step by following the Keep It Timeline.
1. Tax information and returns — 6 years.
2. Investment statements — 3 years (if you are reporting capital gains or losses on investments those statements must be also kept for 6 years.)
3. Purchase receipts — double the warranty period as some retailers may replace or repair items past the warranty date. I once got a ski jacket zipper replaced two years after buying the jacket.
4. Bank and credit card statements — 2 years.
Every year at tax time purge your old records and don’t forget to shred as you do.
The Keep It Timeline is a great start to financial organization because in order to store the information you must create a dated file for each category. And that forces you to pay attention to all that paper. You’ll be on top of it in no time. Happy New Year.
• Ensure financial resolutions are attainable because success with money breeds more success.
– Alison Griffiths is a financial journalist, author and host of Maxed Out on the W Network. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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