Misplaced bills, late payments, and forgotten invoices can cause plunging credit scores, penalties, and lots of stress. Protect your money, organize your finances, and prevent a headache with these suggestions:
- Get filing. Get a filing cabinet or box. Create two sections: "permanent" and "active". Keep documents that are completed but need to be accessible — such as tax records — in the permanent section, arranged alphabetically. Bills and other items that still need action go in the active section. Hard-to-replace documents such as vehicle titles, stocks and bond certificates, and property deeds should be kept in a safe-deposit box.
- Don't let mail pile up. It's tempting to throw mail in the "I'll get to it later" pile. Break that habit. Open your mail the day you get it and decide whether it gets filed or tossed.
- Discard old documents. Sort through your active files at least once a year and toss anything unnecessary. Move paperwork that is inactive but still needs to be kept to the permanent section of your files. Learn more about which financial records you should keep and which you can toss.
- Reduce your paper footprint. Sign up for paperless billing wherever you can. Also think about cutting back on the number of credit cards you have and consolidating financial accounts, if possible. Fewer bills means less time spent paying them.
- Go online. Online account and banking services let you track activity, pay bills, and transfer funds whenever, wherever. Many online banking services let you download your transactions to financial management software. State Farm Bank® gives you 24/7 access to accounts and bill paying, right from your desktop or mobile device.
Find worksheets, calculators, and other tools that can help you organize your financial life at MyMoney.gov.