Building Your Financial House - Set your foundation with commercial-free information about money
Website Accessibility InformationSkip Navigation

Get Organized

Recording Keeping HALF


How is your record keeping?  Imagine you want to buy a new car and will use your current car as a trade-in.  Can you locate the title?  Imagine your apartment is burglarized while you are on vacation.  Do you have a list and pictures of items stolen?  Imagine you lost your wallet at an amusement park.  Do you know what was in it?

Thankfully, none of these situations are fatal, but all three can end up being very expensive if you don’t practice good record-keeping.  If you can’t find the title to your car, you will have to order a new one from PennDot and possibly miss out on a special financing offer.  If you don’t have a list and pictures of household items, your renter’s insurance claim may not be enough to replace the items or be denied altogether.   If you don’t know what’s in your wallet, you’re at a greater risk for identity theft.  So you can see how costly it may be NOT to keep good records.

So what should we keep?  Of course we should keep our financial records, bank statements, tax returns, insurance policies, etc.  As we saw in the above example though, it pays to keep more than financial records.   Here is a breakdown of what we should keep:

- Vital records:  birth and death certificates, social security information, military history

- Financial records:  taxes, bank statements, credit card/loans, credit reports, insurance 

- Legal records:  wills, trusts, marriage/divorce documentation, bankruptcy, criminal history

- Property records:  home and mortgage records, automobile titles and loans, jewelry and
  collectible appraisals

- Personal records:  who to contact in case of emergency, professional service providers,
  medical records

Now that we know what to keep, where should we keep them?  We may keep them:

- “On our person” meaning in a wallet, pocketbook, or purse that we carry with us

- Home filing system

- Fire-proof, water-proof in home safe

- Safe deposit box at a financial institution

The rule of thumb for record keeping is the harder it is to replace (or the greater threat to financial loss or identity theft) the more secure location it should be kept.

Still not convinced getting organized is necessary, keep the following in mind.  Record keeping is:

- Non-discriminatory-it doesn’t matter your income, race, sex, religion, etc.  Everybody
   needs to do it.

- Provides protection and proof

- Helps with money management-eliminating the unexpected expenses which may be
  incurred as a result

- Reduces stress - no longer have to worry about not having what you need, when you
  need it.

Click on Home Filing System Organizers to access file labels which can guide you through the record keeping process.