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If it's important, file it!

Investments need special attention, even though some transactions and transfers are made on-line. It isn't hard to run up a list of the current ones detailing amounts, deposits, withdrawals and maturity dates. A printout of this can go in the Investments pocket at the front of any relevant paperwork. This is also a handy method to use for recording lay-bys and cash transactions that might come back to bite should it be claimed that one or more have not been payed. Always insist on receipts for these and keep them with the list.

A Lever-arch File with transparent wallets is one place to store insurance policies, bank and credit-card conditions, plus information relating to any long-term agreements such as loans and frequent-flier or reward schemes that rarely need checking regularly. Many of us can't even be bothered to read these long-winded tomes, but they should nevertheless be filed along with anything pertaining to legal matters.

Legal documents are a mystery that few ordinary people understand, or want to. Anyone in a rental situation knows that trying to have money reimbursed by a landlord or an insurance company in the absence of positive proof is usually futile; and home-owners aren't immune to lazy or questionable business practices. Ensure any agreement is in writing, is appropriately signed and witnessed, and that this is kept with the relevant receipts; otherwise you might be lucky to receive little more than a wry smile and a see-you-later!

Eventually this simple filing system will become overburdened.
An Archive Box can be used to store old paperwork that still needs to be kept for a while. File boxes are usually cheap, but a cardboard box in good condition costs nothing and is quite adequate. Bundled separately, bank and credit-card statements, utilities accounts, etcetera, can be stored in the box, maybe in the garage (as long as it's dry and mouse-free!). Labelled appropriately so that you know what's in there, these past records can be kept until they are no longer required. Just be sure to shred them before disposal, especially those bearing personal and financial details - simply binned intact, they could be used for identity theft, or some other kind of scam.

Setting up an efficient filing system at home may seem like a busman's holiday to those who have to manage one every day at work, but it will be worthwhile. A small amount of time spent when it matters can save an awful lot more later on, not to mention a reduction in the stress department. The System causes enough problems as it is. Surely we don't need to add to that, not if the solution is as simple as filing a few papers?

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