6 Steps to Reach Financial Freedom: Step 1

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Getting Organized

Organize your statements
Below is a checklist of the most important files you should assemble. Easy access to these documents is crucial for staying abreast of your current financial situation.

  • Checking and Savings Accounts: both individual and joint accounts
  • Retirement Accounts: IRAs, Roth IRAs and 401(k) statements for you and your spouse (if applicable)
  • Non-Retirement Accounts: all investments outside your retirement accounts
  • Credit Card Accounts: include any gas or store credit cards
  • Home Mortgages and Other Liabilities: auto loans, personal loans, etc.
  • Insurance Statements: life, disability, home, car, etc.
  • Tax Returns: state, federal and all supporting documentation
  • Wills & Trusts: for you and your spouse
  • Kid’s Accounts: any trust or UGMA/UTMA accounts set up for your children

Set up a filing system
The best organizational system is the one that makes sense to you. But it is smart to create separate files for each account or plan so your account history is easily accessible. To avoid being buried under paperwork, here’s a guideline for how long you should hold onto these documents:

  • Monthly account statements: one year. Most institutions will issue an annual statement summarizing your account activity. Once that is received and checked for accuracy, you can discard the monthly statements.
  • Tax returns: seven years. The IRS can audit you up to seven years after a return is filed. At a minimum, you should save your state and federal tax returns and supporting documentation for that amount of time.
 
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