But if you still answered “yes,” you’re certainly not alone. The good news is that there are many simple things you can do to better organize your bank statements, receipts and bills. In fact, the task is probably easier than you think. Here are three simple steps to get you started:
Think About Going Electronic
I will admit, this one can be a challenge for some seniors–they simply aren’t comfortable with digital files and paying bills electronically. But if you’re patient and introduce the idea to them slowly, many times they will come around.
Once the initial set-up is complete and they get the hang of it, many feel that it’s so much faster than organizing the “old” way. Another great perk is the fact that organizing your financial records electronically takes up a lot less space.
The vast majority of banks, credit card companies, utility providers and other types of businesses already give consumers the option to receive their statements and bills electronically. So sign up, it’s typically fast, convenient and free.
If you don’t have that option, here’s a simple solution: purchase an inexpensive scanner. This will allow you to scan your printed bills and receipts into whatever software program you’re using, and shred the paper once it’s scanned.
Choosing A Filing System
Whether you want to go electronic or not, you need to come up with a basic filing system that’s easy for you to stick to and not get frustrated with. This works best when you co-ordinate your filing efforts with a calendar or organizer.
There are several ways to set up a filing system. The choice you make is up to you. These methods include:
* Month-to-month: A good choice for those who don’t have a lot of credit card payments and other recurring bills.
* Subject or category: Use broad categories such as “credit cards” and “utility bills,” or create a separate file category for each company you pay.
* Color coded: If you’re more of a visual person, color-coded files are probably for you. (See photo below.) This is our favorite way to organize a file system and it works really well for seniors.
If you have the time and inclination, it’s better to open bills and other financial correspondence as soon as you receive it. Taking the time to file documents away, during the same session, makes things even more streamlined.
The last thing you want is to wait several weeks to file things, only to spend hours transferring receipts and other documents from a huge pile on your desk or the proverbial shoebox to their (newly-appointed) proper location.
Now that you have some ideas in regard to organizing your finances, you’re on the road to a tidier filing cabinet. Better yet, you can say goodbye to the frustration associated with digging through piles of documents to locate the specific financial information you need.
Depending on your current state of disorganization, sorting things out may take some time. But, that’s okay. With a bit of due diligence, your financial records will be in tip-top shape before you know it. Remember, it’s not how fast you get everything done. The important thing is, you’ll finally be able to easily find a receipt or bank statement right when you need it.
And if you need help with this, please give us a call, we’d love to help!