This weekend, I decided it was time to deal with all of the filing and other things that I hadn’t taken care of in months. I have a sporadic filing system. Mail comes in. Junk goes in the recycle bin. Magazines and interesting catalogs get placed in the magazine rack. Bills get opened and paid. All other mail gets opened, looked at and either shredded, recycled, or put into a basket “to be dealt with later.” This includes things like bank statements (I do, of course, review them to make sure they look right), TSP statements, insurance statements, paystubs (I opted for electronic stubs and still get paper), etc. I also put all of my receipts into this basket. It’s where I put things that I know I need to keep.
The plan, of course, is to go through this basket every few weeks, no less than once a month, to go through the basket, update Microsoft Money (which I have used for years, and am loathe to give up just because of the years of back data), and file everything away in its proper place.
As I’m sure you can guess from the title of this post, the best laid plans…
I hadn’t updated anything since November. NOVEMBER, people. That is too long. Of course, it’s not an issue, since I track my spending with YNAB, and am obsessive about my bills. There were no surprises in the basket. But there very well could have been. I think that I’m careful when I go through everything, but it’s entirely possible I could miss something.
Plus I discovered that when you don’t download transactions from your credit card company for a few months, the download only gets about half of the transactions, making balancing things so much more difficult.
Part of my delay in doing this was that I knew I had put it off so long that it would take a chunk of time to get it all done. Did it? No more than an hour and a half, which isn’t bad. It could have just been 15 minutes of work at a time, if I had done it immediately.
So the new plan is to do these administrative type tasks at least once a month. As much as I don’t want to do them, it’s important to keep on top of all the paperwork. Next month, I also think it’s time to clear out the file box again. It’s getting a bit stuffed!
Megan is a 30-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.