Simplified financial trail good for you, your family
Weeding out unnecessary paperwork has obvious benefits: staying on top of bills and taxes, avoiding late fees, reducing exposure to identity theft and even making a grab-and-go exit easier in a natural disaster.
But it's not just about eliminating paper pileups. Getting organized can be a godsend to your family, said Claes Bell, senior banking analyst at Bankrate.com.
“A lot of people don't think about this, but if you or a loved one passes away unexpectedly, having account numbers, website log-ins and other key financial information in some kind of order can make it much easier on your (family),” he said. “Do you really want to burden them with the chore of cutting through your financial clutter?”
For all those reasons, here are a few tips on how to clean up your paper trail:
Less is more
If you have lots of different bank or brokerage accounts, you're generating more paper than you may need.
Unless you have a specific plan, such as better savings rates or laddered CDs, it can pay to consolidate your accounts among a few banks or credit unions, Bell said. Just be sure your combined deposits stay below the $250,000 limit for FDIC coverage.
Ditch extra credit cards
Getting rid of excess plastic can unclutter your wallet, as well as drop the number of monthly billings. And there are added benefits: “You won't accidentally make a purchase on a little-used credit card and then forget to pay the bill, which can mean big late fees and serious credit consequences,” Bell said.
But be careful. If you close too many credit cards at once, it can ding your credit score. Rather than closing the extra accounts, Bell suggests it might be better to cut up the cards, so you're not tempted to use them.
Switch to online banking
One obvious way to shed paper is to pay bills online.
Remember to keep track of payment due dates so you don't incur a late fee. And if you set up automatic payments, be aware of triggering overdraft fees if your bank account dips too low.
Online payments also can help protect against fraud, since you're not mailing or generating as many financial pieces of paper .
Overall, “it may be a drag to spend time organizing” your financial documents, said Bell, “but buckling down and doing it will save you time and money in the long run.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- As banking goes mobile, branch closures rip through local economy
- Employers prepare for demographic shift
- Plus-size fashion bloggers recruited
- Kennametal plans plant closings, job cuts in fallout from oil and gas decline
- Subaru BRZ still needs upgrades
- Decoding mutual funds jargon
- Natural gas industry buys share of Super Bowl spotlight
- 8th-grader gets venture capital for inexpensive Braille-printer
- No more room on iPad? You’ll need to trim some of that fat
- Cheap gas lets small business dream big
- PPG submits offer for French sealants, adhesives business unit