My Finance Notebook

by Julie Davis

Recently my father's grandpa showed me how he keeps track of his investments and financial documents. Rather than having separate file folders for each account and investment, he keeps all the documents in a three-ring binder. It puts all your information at your fingertips, letting you flip through all your financial data quickly. I loved the idea so much, I implemented it immediately. A brief description of mine follows.

My binder has five dividers: Bank Statements, Credit Cards, Stocks/Bonds, Mutual Funds and Investment Club.

In the Bank Statement section I keep my bank's statement and my own computer-generated reconciliation report. Under Credit Card I keep my credit-card statements and a hole-punched envelope to put receipts in.

Under Stocks and Bonds I keep a list of my savings bonds with the amount and serial numbers. I keep statements from my broker and dividend reinvestment plans here as well. Before each stock's statements I keep a ledger page that notes purchases I have made, current prices, fees, and reinvested dividend. This way I can always see that stock's worth at a glance and easily track its performance on one sheet. If you do this on the computer, you could put a printout in your binder occasionally. My mutual fund area contains similar ledgers and statements.

I have an Investment Club area to keep track of my investment club stock. You can add any dividers you wish, according to your needs. I keep my bills in the side pockets of the binder until they are paid, along with a book of stamps. At the beginning of the notebook I keep a graph showing my total retirement savings and my daughter's college savings. It is inspiring to see the numbers grow. You could do a sheet for any goal, such as vacation savings.

The notebook is easy to maintain, simply hole-punch your statements as you receive them, make notes on your ledger sheets and place them in the correct section with the most recent statement on top. With this system you won't misfile documents or have them get mixed up.

At the end of the year I will remove all the documents and place them in a manila envelope along with my tax return. Then I will store each year's envelope in a storage box. I hope this is of use to you, I think having one's finances organized encourages one to improve their spending and saving habits.

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