What to stash, what to trash

How to create a filing system for financial paperwork.

Christine Benz 27 January, 2011 | 7:00PM

Editor's Note: Are your financial files stuffed with marketing literature, prospectuses and empty envelopes? Is your desk cluttered with RRSP statements that date back to the Trudeau era? If so, you probably need some coaching on what to save and what to throw out. The following, an excerpt from Christine Benz's book 30-Minute Money Solutions: A Step-by-Step Guide to Managing Your Finances , discusses how to create a filing system for your financial paperwork. Some details have been edited from the original to adapt them to a Canadian audience.

One of my long-time co-workers is, without a doubt, the most organized person I've ever known. With the exception of a couple of snapshots of her kids, her desk is so clean and clutter-free that it might as well belong to an intern. And while many of us shipped several huge boxes of documents to Morningstar's new office when we moved in December 2008, Bridget sent just a few.

So, what's her secret? Like all truly organized people, she never has to put "get organized" on her to-do list. When it comes to paperwork, she deals with it as soon as she puts her hands on it rather than setting it in a "deal with this later" pile. She either takes action with the item--by reading it or forwarding it--files it, recycles it, or shreds it. That's precisely the strategy that you should use to stay on top of your financial paperwork.

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About Author

Christine Benz

Christine Benz  Christine Benz is Morningstar's director of personal finance and author of 30-Minute Money Solutions: A Step-by-Step Guide to Managing Your Finances and the Morningstar Guide to Mutual Funds: 5-Star Strategies for Success. Follow Christine on Twitter: @christine_benz.

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