The “stay-in-place” directive is providing ample time for a not-so-favorite activity fondly known as spring cleaning. Last weekend I worked my way through closets and drawers, focusing on clothing. While my efforts did not include the robust Marie Kondo’s “joy” strategy, I still feel pretty good about my accomplishment!
This weekend I am focusing on files, both digital and paper. My strategy for this exercise is much better defined. Here are some helpful tips to get you going, too.
How Long Do I Need to Keep Old Files?
Now that most financial institutions offer paperless options, keeping paper copies of monthly & quarterly statements is not necessary. Here is a useful tool that offers guidance of what documents to keep safely stored and for how long.
Digital vs Paper
Let’s face it, paper files are a pain; shredding is a pain; storage is a pain. My belief is that someday we will be forced to keep our files digitally. From an environmental perspective it is better, and from a space/cleanup perspective it is much easier. If you are contemplating a relocation, thinking about files months in advance is helpful in order to have time to organize and shred old documents.
Digital storage allows for easy filing. Labeling and date of entry is automatically included, and sensitive documents are easily uploaded to a secure data storage system like Mosaic Fi’s secure vault available to each of our clients within their wealth management dashboard. In addition, many accountants and attorneys use secure portals for easy transference of documents. End-of-year tax documents are easily downloaded from a custodian and/or bank’s site for further transference to the professional.
To get you started, here are twelve simple steps that can be repeated as often as you wish.
12 Digital File Cleanup Tips
1. Use the same file names for both digital and paper file folders. (Less to remember if you continue to use paper storage.)
2. Copy/paste info to the new folder before deleting from another location in case you are interrupted.
3. Think twice, delete once!
4. Delete personal identifiable information you no longer need.
5. Review large documents and files (videos) that take up space. Delete what is redundant or obsolete.
6. Organize documents into folders, then review what doesn’t have a home; clean it out.
7. Back up in Cloud.
8. Clear out downloads.
9. Clean up bookmarks.
10. Clean out cookies. (This should be done weekly.)
11. Unsubscribe from offers, newsletters, etc.
12. Delete old emails. (I try to do this quarterly.)
I hope this is helpful. Feel free to leave me a note and let me know if you felt "inspired" to declutter.
Jenifer Aronson is the Founder of Mosaic Fi.