Bank papers, insurance papers, income tax papers, shares and bonds; it can be mind boggling! Remembering and keeping track of the various dates of paying dues and maturities can be a confusing and herculean task. But running and sustaining a happy family, being prepared for emergencies as also to secure the future of your loved ones demands well managed finances. We are always on the lookout for beneficial schemes offered by different banks and insurance companies, to build up a secure future for the family. Bank deposits, FDs, life insurance, medical insurance, house and vehicle insurance, retirement plans, education plans for our own kids and then for the dear little grandchildren, pension plans for the spouse, various loans, income tax, property tax, the list just seems to be endless. But we have to manage it. Things become easier and clearer if a clear cut system is maintained to remain updated on all financial matters of the household. Here are some tips for systematic management of family financial papers.
1. Maintain a diary- Opt for a large diary. You can maintain different diaries for bank matters, insurance matters and income tax matters etc. Number the pages and make an index. Make an entry the very day you make some deposits, say a new FD or you take some new insurance plans. Write down the date of starting the scheme, the amount deposited. Write separately in bold letters, the date and amount of the next payment to be made and the date of maturity. Then enter the name of the scheme and the page number in the index page of the diary, so that you can directly go to the page you want.
Write ‘paid’ in bold letters whichever and whenever you pay. When you close some account or scheme or it matures, cancel it, so you know it’s over, whenever you go through the diary for updates. Cancel it in the index too.
2. Display file- A display file has several flaps in it (like a CD holder) to carry papers. Put different papers in different flaps. Tag each flap. Use florescent papers/stickers for tags. Write the name of the paper on the tag, e.g.- Daughter’s FD in State Bank of India. Stick the tag on the flap/pocket in which you have kept the related paper. Do this for all the papers and flaps. Place/stick the tag on the upper right corner of the flap in such a way that it slightly protrudes above and out of the file, so that you can read the name of the paper you have written on the flap. Number all the tags. The flap of the file should have the index, where you keep entering the paper name and tag number, for easy search.
3. Maintain bags/holders- Not everything is in form of single papers/certificates. There are passbooks, cheque books, instruction books etc. Generally we keep our assets, invest in not one bank but in a number of banks, each issuing its own papers. Maintain separate holders or small bags for different banks and keep all books of one bank in one bag. Similarly make separate holders for say son’s insurance, daughter’s insurance, and spouse’s insurance, self’s insurance, medical insurance, vehicle insurance, etc. There should be separate holders for property papers, pension papers, will papers, loans etc. Tag all bags in bold letters.
4. Update your family- Finances are an integral part of family life. Therefore, from time to time discuss, explain and update all financial matters with your spouse and grown-up sons and daughters. They should also know the agent’s name and phone numbers with whom you deal and trust. The family should know where and how the finances are managed, so that they do not panic or feel lost in case anything unfortunate happens to you.
Proper planning and systematic management makes execution of any type of work smoother and hassle free. If you make it a habit to enter everything immediately, checking entries on a regular basis and placing your papers systematically at the designated place, file and bag, it will certainly save your time and energy and save you from stress of searching things in a haphazard way and missing out payment dates. Plan your life, plan your papers!