Updated: Aug 26
Published in ESRA print magazine February 2013
Sorting out paperwork, and in particular financial documents, often feels like an irritating rash — better to pretend it's not there, because just the thought of tackling it may leave you red with anguish. And, even when the paperwork starts to overflow and we have no choice but to deal with it, what usually happens? We start, but as soon as we hear our favorite TV show start in the background, we put it away to do later....
The importance of keeping one's paperwork in order is obvious: it's the basis for the start of every process of financial planning or improvement. It's easier and quicker to find documents when needed. When the paperwork is tidy, we have more order in our heads. A mass of untidy documents might cause our inheritors one day a lot of work and possible financial losses. When one's paperwork is tidy, it's easier to glean problems (what? I've been paying 15 shekels per month for the last 2 years on an unused cellphone?? What? I didn't know we had the right to extend the house on this property?).
Even though we live in the age of internet and e-mail, much paperwork still finds its way into our lives and homes. There are some rare people out there who manage to live an almost paperless life – they get most of their accounts and reports by e-mail, and whatever arrives by slow post gets scanned and stored on the computer, and the original is thrown away. But even with this method, a logical filing system is required.
Below is a table which contains the basic files (real or virtual - I strongly recommend setting up a computerized folder system, one that is also backup in the cloud) required in every home. But first - a few tips from me:
· File once a week – don't let the paperwork accumulate.
· Scan important documents and keep copies in 2 different digital places
· Keep paper copies only of important documents (eg wills, medical summaries)
· Add a "contents" page as the first page of every file.
· Use dividers to separate between subjects in the file.
· You may prefer using a Concertina/Expandable file for Current Accounts, while Lever Arch-type files are more suitable for all the others.
· If you cannot do it alone, get help from a professional personal information management expert, at least to do the initial order.