Last week’s featured AAII article on the AAII blog outlined ways in which individuals can organize their personal financial files. It turned out to be one of the most popular posts in the blog’s history.
As the article points out, there are a number of reasons to keep your financial files in order: tax audits, natural disasters, medical emergencies, etc. There are also a number of ways to keep your files organized: filing away physical copies of paper statements and records or using a website or software packages to do so.
I am in the process of looking for a new house so I needed a slew of information for my mortgage broker. Luckily, I am reasonably organized when it comes to my financial files, so that process wasn’t too painful (unlike getting my condo ready for sale!).
AAII Weekly Survey Question
Given the article and my own experience of needing to access historical financial files, I was curious how well our readers are when it comes to their own financial files. So last week’s survey question asked:
How organized would you say you are when it comes to your personal financial files?
Here are the results:
In all, 2,019 readers participated in the survey.
It is encouraging to see that the overwhelming majority of readers feel that they at least have a reasonable handle on their personal financial files. However, only 48% of readers feel they are highly organized while another 47% think they’re somewhat organized.
The remaining 5% of respondents say their personal financial files are not organized at all.
Weekly Special Question
To get an idea of what methods our readers use to organize their personal financial files, last week’s special question asked:
How have you organized your personal financial files to assist your beneficiaries or executors once you are gone?
Overall, we received 293 responses to the question, with nearly 78% saying they have some form of an organizational system for their personal financial files.
Among those that have a system, 31.1% of respondents say they have physical files, documents, etc. in a central location.
Only 18.9% said they have digitized their files either to their computer or to the cloud.
Another 11% said their estate planning documents—will, trust, etc.—outlines where their files are located and how to access them.
Here is a sampling of the reasons why our readers do or don’t use mobile apps for their financial transactions:
- “A personal organizer which came with a computer program years ago has been very helpful. It’s easy to update. Beyond that, my sons (co-executors of my estate) have been part of my planning in recent years. Yet, I feel a constant need to improve what I have—is it complete enough, what have I forgotten about?”
- “A set of binders in our office somewhat known to my wife and son-in-law.”
- “The beneficiary of my trust has copies of all pertinent documents and receives detailed annual and semi-annual reports.”
- “All important documents are in one place and are properly labeled. My heirs know where those papers are and have easy access to them.”
- “I keep all digital financial files in a single folder on the computer which is backed up periodically.”
- “Not as much as I’d like to.”
- “Poorly. Need to work on that!”
- “Somewhat organized, but I need to get my wife or children more involved so they would know where to find things.”
- “All records are in my bank lockbox or in several file cabinets at my home. Instructions are in my lockbox for the executor as to where to find everything. Although I use a computer to do things, nothing is on my hard drives that can be compromised. All important info is hard copy.”
Everybody has an opinion! Why not give us yours? Participate in our weekly member poll, updated every Monday, and see the results online at www.aaii.com/memberquestion.