How to Organize Your Finances Physically and Electronically

Let’s be honest — organizing your finances probably isn’t your number one priority.

So, I’m going to teach you how to organize your finances both physically and electronically once and for all.

I know even as a financial planner and personal finance blogger, I can get unorganized once in a while. To combat the chaos, I implement systems to organize my files physically and electronically.

The first thing you should do to organize your finances, is to schedule a time on your calendar. Seriously. Put a date and time on your calendar when you will organize both your physical and your electronic financial files. Then, when that time comes, treat it like any other important appointment and do it – no excuses! 🙂

Organizing Your Physical Financial Files

When you sit down and organize your physical files, create specific folders for each financial category that you have. This will look different depending on what assets and debts you have, but keep in mind that you want to be as narrow as possible. The more folders, the better. This will make it easier to find the information when you need it. Put all of your folders in a filing cabinet (I use this one here).

Examples of folders you may want to keep in your filing cabinet:

  1. Pay stubs
  2. Side income
  3. Receipts
  4. Bank accounts
  5. Retirement
  6. Investments
  7. Student loans
  8. Mortgage
  9. Car Info
  10. Credit cards
  11. Taxes
  12. Life Insurance
  13. Health Care

Label each file folder with the designated category and put them all in a filing cabinet. Whenever you get physical paper for any of the categories, put it in the specific folder. This is a great way to organize your receipts and bank statements. You’ll know exactly where they are if you put them directly from your wallet or from the mail into the correct folder in the filing cabinet.

Keep the same folders for one year. At the end of the year, go through the folders and shred whatever paperwork you no longer need (receipts, bank statements, etc.). Keep what you do still need (mortgage information, car loan documents, etc.).

You will be happy you have the documents you need when you need them. Getting in the habit of organizing your finances will help you lead a more productive, successful life.

Organizing Your Electronic Financial Files

When it comes to organizing your finances electronically, the key to success is creating electronic folders (just like with physical folders). In fact, you can create corresponding electronic folders just like you did for your physical folders.

Create electronic folders on your computer’s hard drive AND in your email. Often, you’ll get statements that stay in your email. Instead of letting them sit in your inbox, move them to the appropriate folder that corresponds with the physical folder you have in your filing cabinet.

If you create an electronic folder on your computer in addition to an electronic folder in your email for each of the real physical folders you have, you will only have three places to look for a specific item when you need it.

In addition to corresponding electronic folders, you may need additional electronic folders. Here is an example of what your electronic folder might look like on your computer:

Documents –> 2017 Financial Documents –>

  1. Budgets
  2. Goals
  3. Documents
  4. Financial literature
  5. Pay stubs
  6. Side income
  7. Receipts
  8. Bank accounts
  9. Retirement
  10. Investments
  11. Student loans
  12. Mortgage
  13. Car Info
  14. Credit cards
  15. Taxes
  16. Life Insurance
  17. Health Care

Notice that there are a few more folders in the electronic example than in the physical folders example above. That is because you may have other documents that you keep electronically, such as budgets or goals, that you don’t keep physically. Or, it may be the opposite for you (you may keep more physical folders than electronic). Whatever the case, make it specific for you.

The more precise you are when you create your organization system, the better organized you will be.


A Final Note!

Creating a system that supports getting organized will help you financially. I know because I used to not be organized. Now that I am, I can’t go back!

There are so many more resources for you to learn about budgeting. Here are a few I recommend:

  1. Budgeting for Budget Haters
  2. Budget Spreadsheet Bundle
  3. The Ultimate Guide To Budgeting

Whatever you do, keep learning about money and budgeting so that you start to make better financial choices and live the financial life you’ve always wanted.