How do you organize and manage your paper bills, statements, and other financial documents?

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Cranberry44
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How do you organize and manage your paper bills, statements, and other financial documents?

Post by Cranberry44 »

Question: How do you organize and manage your paper bills, statements, and other financial documents?

Context: I’m happy with the progress I’ve made in re-structuring my financial life, but I am continually returning to the question of how to maintain/organize all of the associated paperwork, including pay stubs, paper mail from banks/brokerages, utilities, bills, etc. As of late, all of my hard-copy financial related documents have just been accumulating in a single pile.

I'm wondering what is worth keeping, and if I should buy a filing box and make separate folders for each category. But, each of these have online records, so maybe it’s not even worth it?

A couple related/implied questions:
  • How long do you keep: pay stubs (notifications of work-place direct deposits), bills (utilities, etc.), credit card statements, etc.
  • Where do you keep those items and how do you organize them?
Any thoughts/recommendations?
Thanks!!
jebmke
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Re: How do you organize and manage your paper bills, statements, and other financial documents?

Post by jebmke »

banks and broker don't mail me anything. Elec and cable are direct debit. Very few paper bills anymore.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
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anon_investor
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Re: How do you organize and manage your paper bills, statements, and other financial documents?

Post by anon_investor »

Scan then shred existing paper documents. Opt for paperless statements. Much easier to organize digital documents. I don't think I actually receive paper statements for anything any more.
inverter
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Re: How do you organize and manage your paper bills, statements, and other financial documents?

Post by inverter »

You get mailed paystubs and statements?? Just throw them out & ask for paperless!
MikeG62
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Re: How do you organize and manage your paper bills, statements, and other financial documents?

Post by MikeG62 »

Electronic statements for everything saved in an encrypted drive in the cloud.

No hardcopy paper statements in years.
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MN-Investor
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Re: How do you organize and manage your paper bills, statements, and other financial documents?

Post by MN-Investor »

anon_investor wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:21 pm Scan then shred existing paper documents. Opt for paperless statements. Much easier to organize digital documents. I don't think I actually receive paper statements for anything any more.
That.

I think most financial institutions keep at least a couple years of financial statements that you can download. I know I can go back to my original investment from more than 20 years ago at one institution. Download the statements now. They may have a year end statement with all transactions for the entire year so that's the only one you need to download for the year.

If you have a lot of documents, I suggest a Fujitsu ScanSnap document scanner. I love mine.

Besides copies on your hard drive, you want to back up those files either to an external hard drive which is in a secure location or to a secure cloud storage site. Only then should you shred the paper copies.
The key to success - Save early, save often, invest well.
Mr. Rumples
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Re: How do you organize and manage your paper bills, statements, and other financial documents?

Post by Mr. Rumples »

Hospital bills are kept forever. Doctor's statements and insurance benefit statements are kept in a box with the tax records. I keep them for seven years. I don't have to, but I do. Utility bills and statements are paid and go in the shredder box which is emptied once a year. Bank records go with the tax stuff. Year end financial statements go with the taxes; the monthly statements are kept until shredded. I wish I had kept more medical stuff. I have an illness from a medication I took decades ago, the doctor is dead and I can't prove it.

My office is looking more and more like Andy Rooney's:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeNqIc5UfMw
jebmke
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Re: How do you organize and manage your paper bills, statements, and other financial documents?

Post by jebmke »

Mr. Rumples wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:48 pm the doctor is dead and I can't prove it.
the death certificate should be sufficient. :?
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
Mr. Rumples
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Re: How do you organize and manage your paper bills, statements, and other financial documents?

Post by Mr. Rumples »

jebmke wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:50 pm
Mr. Rumples wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:48 pm the doctor is dead and I can't prove it.
the death certificate should be sufficient.
I'm sorry, I meant I can't prove I took the medication. I do keep my calendars. Year by year, they build up, but like Andy Rooney, I am not going to be able to find what I want.
jebmke
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Re: How do you organize and manage your paper bills, statements, and other financial documents?

Post by jebmke »

Mr. Rumples wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:52 pm I'm sorry, I meant I can't prove I took the medication.
That's what I figured. Just yanking the chain.

I assume you are seeking some kind of compensation from the pharma manufacturer. Have you checked with the dispensing pharmacy to see if they have a record of the Rx? or perhaps the insurance company if it was covered and there is an EOB. I'm sure you thought of these but I thought I'd bring them up anyway. Best of luck.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
Saving$
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Re: How do you organize and manage your paper bills, statements, and other financial documents?

Post by Saving$ »

Set aside 1 partial evening every other month to
- Download all electronic statements and forms that are not otherwise downloaded by an aggregator (ie Medical EOB's, asset accounts, pay stubs, etc.)
- Scan those I can't get electronically to pdf
Once I have a pdf then shred the paper copy. My hard drive is backed up to Backblaze, so as soon as I download a pdf onto my hard drive it gets backed up.

Also look into Finovera for consolidating pdf statements. Finovera pulls everything in monthly. Annually, takes less than 1 min per account to download that years statements. I only send bills such as utilities and credit card statements to FV, not any asset / investment accounts.
orangesherbet
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Re: How do you organize and manage your paper bills, statements, and other financial documents?

Post by orangesherbet »

I Marie-kondo’d them outta here! Threw out/shredded nearly everything, took photos or scanned if info may be needed but I don’t want the paper. Only kept one binder of papers (car titles, insurance policies, some medical stuff that I didn’t want to bother with scanning). Went paperless as much as possible moving forward, and staying on top of throwing out paper I don’t need. I erred on the side of tossing stuff and got rid of an entire file cabinet. It was strangely liberating.
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CAsage
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Re: How do you organize and manage your paper bills, statements, and other financial documents?

Post by CAsage »

orangesherbet wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 5:15 pm I Marie-kondo’d them outta here! Threw out/shredded nearly everything, took photos or scanned if info may be needed but I don’t want the paper. Only kept one binder of papers (car titles, insurance policies, some medical stuff that I didn’t want to bother with scanning). Went paperless as much as possible moving forward, and staying on top of throwing out paper I don’t need. I erred on the side of tossing stuff and got rid of an entire file cabinet. It was strangely liberating.
Fabulous! Way to go! I make sure that I don't get paper copies of utilities or bank statements at all - it's all online for at least 18 months with charge cards, and years with utilities. When that bill is paid it's kind of over and done (no need to prove anything) . I would keep medical records (but those are getting more online, too). I do not keep any brokerage statements, only one account and Vanguard is doing a fine job tracking the cost basis, but you should keep any cost records for assets. I do keep year end statements and file those with my taxes, keep for a few years (PDF for a lot longer). House records = for ages (3 years after you sell, and I ain't selling). So, I actually end up with a skinny folder of paper once a year, and a half file drawer for house and medical archives. Makes room for all the pictures and travel souvenirs I have yet to sort....
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anon_investor
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Re: How do you organize and manage your paper bills, statements, and other financial documents?

Post by anon_investor »

Mr. Rumples wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:48 pm Hospital bills are kept forever. Doctor's statements and insurance benefit statements are kept in a box with the tax records. I keep them for seven years. I don't have to, but I do. Utility bills and statements are paid and go in the shredder box which is emptied once a year. Bank records go with the tax stuff. Year end financial statements go with the taxes; the monthly statements are kept until shredded. I wish I had kept more medical stuff. I have an illness from a medication I took decades ago, the doctor is dead and I can't prove it.

My office is looking more and more like Andy Rooney's:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeNqIc5UfMw
You don't just keep scans? I don't think any of my medical bills come via paper anymore. But I keep digital copies along with proof of payment for future HSA reimbursement.
tibbitts
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Re: How do you organize and manage your paper bills, statements, and other financial documents?

Post by tibbitts »

i used to keep mine in monthly check-sized files. Now I receive almost nothing in hardcopy so I don't keep any paper any longer that I can't also access online. I do keep copies of account numbers, etc. Some people make a case for downloading the lastest copies of account statements that show your balance, etc. People do this just in case electronic records are lost somehow. The problem is if the institution claims that sure, you had $2M as of your last statement, but you withdrew it all, what are you going to do?
Normchad
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Re: How do you organize and manage your paper bills, statements, and other financial documents?

Post by Normchad »

I prefer to get everything in the mail. I shred almost everything within a couple of days.

I keep investment and bank account statements once or twice a year in a file cabinet drawer.

In the same drawer, I keep all my passwords, the deed to the house, car titles, insurance policies, and appliance warranties. And old tax returns.

Basically everything else gets shredded. Trying to pare back and simplify, everything important is either in that one drawer, or in the safe.
BIGal
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Re: How do you organize and manage your paper bills, statements, and other financial documents?

Post by BIGal »

MN-Investor wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:30 pm
anon_investor wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:21 pm Scan then shred existing paper documents. Opt for paperless statements. Much easier to organize digital documents. I don't think I actually receive paper statements for anything any more.
That.

I think most financial institutions keep at least a couple years of financial statements that you can download. I know I can go back to my original investment from more than 20 years ago at one institution. Download the statements now. They may have a year end statement with all transactions for the entire year so that's the only one you need to download for the year.

If you have a lot of documents, I suggest a Fujitsu ScanSnap document scanner. I love mine.

Besides copies on your hard drive, you want to back up those files either to an external hard drive which is in a secure location or to a secure cloud storage site. Only then should you shred the paper copies.
Second on the Fujitsu Scan Snap!! Be sure to develop a good documents file to save to. AND get yourself a good crosscut shredder to get rid of the paper. I do keep hard copies of my tax documents. Good Luck!!
bluelight
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Re: How do you organize and manage your paper bills, statements, and other financial documents?

Post by bluelight »

The only paper bills that I still receive are property taxes and oil. All other bills and statements are PDF files that I download.

I have a file cabinet that is used for anything paper. Very little is stored there so it will take a long time to fill (I purged most of the file cabinet when we moved.)

I have a financial folder on my PC that holds bills, statements and financial records that are downloaded. That folder is backed up twice monthly to a folder on a different hard drive in my desktop PC. At the same time an additional copy is copied to a hard drive that is placed in my safe.
Mr. Rumples
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Re: How do you organize and manage your paper bills, statements, and other financial documents?

Post by Mr. Rumples »

anon_investor wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 5:24 pm
Mr. Rumples wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:48 pm Hospital bills are kept forever. Doctor's statements and insurance benefit statements are kept in a box with the tax records. I keep them for seven years. I don't have to, but I do. Utility bills and statements are paid and go in the shredder box which is emptied once a year. Bank records go with the tax stuff. Year end financial statements go with the taxes; the monthly statements are kept until shredded. I wish I had kept more medical stuff. I have an illness from a medication I took decades ago, the doctor is dead and I can't prove it.

My office is looking more and more like Andy Rooney's:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeNqIc5UfMw
You don't just keep scans? I don't think any of my medical bills come via paper anymore. But I keep digital copies along with proof of payment for future HSA reimbursement.
I do not scan. Virginia law (§ 8.01-413 B5) requires medical providers to give their patients up to three statements a year for free upon request.
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